JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Smokies Release) - Charlie Cutler drove in three runs, Kris Bryant hit his league best 20th home run and starter Dae-Eun Rhee pitched seven scoreless innings as the Smokies won their second straight 5-0 versus the Suns at The Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville on Saturday evening.
Rhee (3-3, 3.53) allowed just five hits, struck out one and walked two for the Smokies (30-32) and earned the win. The scoreless start was the first turned in by Rhee this season. It also counted for his sixth quality start over 11 total this season.
The victory was Tennessee's second in a row and marked their second straight shutout versus the Suns (32-31). The Smokies have won four of their last seven and are 4-3 in June.
Tennessee jumped out in front and gave Rhee a lead to work with two runs and two hits in the fourth. Bryant started the rally with a one out single and was brought in moments later on Cutler's home run to right.
The home run was Cutler's second this season and came on a 2-2 pitch from Suns starter Jay Rogers.Cutler was 2-for4 with three runs batted in for Tennessee in the victory. Bryant was 3-for-3 with two runs and one batted in. His home run in the ninth was his league leading 20th of the season and came off reliever Frankie Reed.
Rogers (1-2, 5.60) had allowed just one other hit coming into the fourth. He allowed a two-out double to Bryant in the first, but had retired eight straight before allowing Bryant's second hit in the fourth. Rogers pitched five full innings and allowed two runs on three hits.
Cutler and the Smokies struck again with another run in the sixth to take a 3-0 lead. This time it came against reliever Matt Montgomery who replaced Rogers after the fifth. John Andreoli started the rally with a lead off bunt single to third. He moved to second on a throwing error on the bunt play and was pushed to third on an Elliot Soto groundout. The Suns then intentionally walked Bryant and Cutler followed with a grounder to short. Major Leaguer Rafael Furcal used the ground ball to retire Cutler at first, but Andreoli scored from third on the play.
The 3-0 lead was enough for the Rhee and the Smokies bullpen. Rhee pitched seven shutout innings and allowed just five hits and two walks. Jeff Lorick followed Rhee in the eighth and retired the side in order. Arodys Vizcaino pitched the ninth and finished with a strikeout in his scoreless frame.
Bryant's home run in the ninth brought the Tennessee lead to 4-0. A sacrifice fly from Jae-Hoon Ha later in the inning scored Cutler from third to put the Smokies up 5-0. Both runs were allowed by Reed who allowed three hits and two runs in the final inning.
The series continues on Sunday afternoon with first pitch scheduled for 3:05 pm in Jacksonville. Matt Loosen (3-2, 5.01) will start for the Smokies against Jacksonville's Justin Nicolino (5-2, 3.23).