Lookouts' Lee douses Smokies in rout

Dodgers' No. 1 prospect backed by six homers in 11-1 victory

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By Zack Cox / Special to MLB.com | August 22, 2012 8:53 PM ET

With the amount of offensive firepower Double-A Chattanooga displayed Wednesday, the Lookouts didn't need a shutdown performance by their starting pitcher.

But Zach Lee gave them one anyway, turning in seven two-hit innings in an 11-1 pounding of the Tennessee Smokies. The Dodgers' top prospect carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning and allowed one run while striking out four in the longest outing of his young career.

"I felt really good early," said MLB.com's No. 34 prospect. "I got into a little trouble in the sixth; I just wasn't locating as well I was earlier in the game. I left a few balls over the plate and kind of paid for it, but I regrouped and finished strong in the rest of the sixth and the seventh."

That sixth proved to be the Smokies' only threat in the game, as third baseman Dustin Harrington doubled to foil Lee's no-hit bid before No. 4 Cubs prospect Matt Szczur knocked him in with an RBI triple.

The Lookouts proceeded to plate three runs in the seventh and five more in the eighth, homering four times over the two frames. Six different Chattanooga hitters -- J.T. Wise, Bobby Coyle, Blake Smith, Jake Lemmerman, Gorman Erickson and Nick Buss -- left the yard, matching the franchise record.

All but one of Chattanooga's 11 runs were accounted for by the No. 2-6 hitters. First baseman Wise led the hit parade, falling a triple short of the cycle while going 4-for-4 with three RBIs and three runs scored.

"We swung the bat well tonight," Lee said. "We got on the board early, which is always a plus for me as a pitcher. [But] my mindset was just to not let up. No matter how many runs we get, it's still a competitive game and you've got to go there and pitch like it's scoreless."

Lee has seemingly righted the ship after a shaky July in which he allowed four or more runs in four consecutive starts. Since Aug. 1, though, the 2010 first-round Draft pick has given up more than a run just once.

The Texas native sports a record of 2-3 through 11 starts since his promotion from Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga in late June and his ERA of 5.03 -- while not stellar -- is down nearly three runs from the 7.92 mark he brought into August.

"We had a couple of those bad starts in July," Lee said. "Our pitching coach, Chuck Crim, and our pitching coordinator, Rafael Chaves, found some things that we needed to tweak and adjust a little bit. So we made those adjustments, and since then, I think we've been really strong."

Nearing the conclusion of his second full professional season, Lee has experienced the highs and lows of life in the Minors. And while he knows there are many aspects of his game that still need development, he is pleased with his progress thus far.

"I feel like I've had two pretty good years. First year was about getting some starts under my belt and get my innings up there, and I was able to do both of those. ... I had some rough starts down there and I had a few rough starts in Rancho, but as I've moved up I've been able to make some adjustments that have really helped me a lot in these last few starts especially.

"I've made great progress since I was drafted, but I know there's quite a ways to go. I'm just trying to keep working hard and get there as soon as possible."

Zack Cox is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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