Beck pitches Barons to the brink

Birmingham stands a win away from Southern League crown

Chris Beck has an 0.82 ERA in two playoff starts. (John Shadrick/Birmingham Barons)

By Ashley Marshall / | September 12, 2013 9:47 PM ET

Birmingham pitcher Chris Beck came into the Southern League Finals knowing he would not be content with winning just one of the first two games in Mobile.

Now after taking both contests away from their own park, the Barons stand one victory away from ending the BayBears' hopes of a three-peat.

Beck allowed two runs -- one earned -- on six hits and a walk while striking out four batters over six innings Thursday as Double-A Birmingham beat host Mobile, 8-2, for a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-5 Southern League Championship Series.

"[My mind-set] was to win both of them, not just one of two," the 23-year-old right-hander said. "After playing a good Tennessee team [in the semifinals] and handling their lineup and beating one of the better teams in the league, we knew we could come down here and take two.

"Going up 2-0 is huge for the team. We're two-thirds of the way there. Their backs are against the wall and we've faced two of their better arms [Archie Bradley and David Holmberg]."

The No. 5 White Sox prospect gave up an RBI single to Ender Inciarte in the second inning and he yielded a second run in the fifth on Nick Evans' base hit to right field that tied the game, 2-2.

But the Barons took the lead in the sixth on a two-out homer by Chicago's No. 4 prospect Trayce Thompson and added a five-spot in the eighth to put the game out of reach.

"I guess an ugly win is better than a pretty loss any day, so I'll take it for sure," said Beck. "I tried to give my team six innings. I wouldn't call it my best outing or say I had my best stuff, but a win is a win, especially in the playoffs.

"There is nothing more inspirational than when an offense puts runs on the board."

On Thursday, Ryan Kussmaul worked around two hits over 1 1/3 innings of relief and Cody Winiarski recorded the final five outs to seal the victory.

Mobile starter Holmberg, the D-backs' No. 5 prospect -- yielded five runs -- four earned -- over seven innings.

The series moves back to Birmingham for Game 3 on Friday. Games 4 and 5, if necessary, will both be on the Barons' home field Saturday and Sunday.

Ashley Marshall is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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