Smokies End Biscuits' Streak

MONTGOMERY -- Jorge Cortes went 5-for-5 to take over the Southern League lead in batting average and Mark Holliman hurled eight shutout innings to become the first pitcher in the Southern League to five victories, leading the first place Tennessee Smokies (16-15) to a 9-0 rout of the host Montgomery Biscuits (17-16).

The loss ended the Biscuits' five-game winning streak, though one streak for the home team did indeed continue. Third baseman Evan Longoria reached on an infield single in the ninth, setting a new Biscuits team record with his 26th game reaching base.

That was the extent of the highlights that the Biscuits could glean from the third game in the five-game series. Montgomery committed four errors (two by Longoria) and watched its best pitcher, Chris Mason, suffer through his poorest showing of the year.

Mason (4-1) committed a balk and hit a batter in a two-run Tennessee first inning, matching the Smokies' total run output from their first two games in the series. The visitors added two more runs in the second before knocking out Mason with a three-run fifth inning. Third baseman Matt Craig delivered the biggest blow, belting a two-run double to right-center to send Mason to the showers.

The Biscuits' righthander lasted 4 1/3 innings, allowing seven runs (five earned) on seven hits and two walks. Tennessee starter Mark Holliman, meanwhile, was even better than advertised. Entering the game with a league-leading 0.55 earned run average, Holliman (5-0) lowered that mark to 0.44 with eight scoreless frames. Most impressively, he allowed the leadoff man to reach base in five of those innings, but stymied the Biscuits offense from there. Montgomery's biggest threat came in the fifth inning when the Biscuits loaded the bases with two outs, but Shaun Cumberland grounded out to first base to retire the side.

In all, Holliman scattered seven hits (two from the rehabbing Devil Ray Greg Norton) and walked two before turning the ball over to Geoffrey Jones for a scoreless ninth. The top-rated offense in the Southern League took care of the rest, particularly Cortes. The leftfielder singled and scored a run in the first, singled in a run in the second, singled and scored in the fifth, singled in the sixth and singled in another run in a two-run eighth off of reliever Brett Wayne. In the process, he collected nearly half of Tennessee's 11 base hits in raising his batting average to .408.

The Biscuits and Smokies play the third game of the series on Thursday night at 7:05 p.m. at Riverwalk Stadium. The pitching matchup sees Montgomery lefthander Mike Prochasa (1-3, 5.16) oppose Tennessee southpaw Donnie Veal (1-4, 6.67), one of the top prospects in the Chicago Cubs' minor league system.

Courtesy: Montgomery Biscuits