BILOXI -- Fans saw plenty of fireworks Saturday night at MGM Park -- just not the kind they were probably hoping for.
After the visiting Chattanooga Lookouts rode a six-run third inning to a 9-5 victory over the Biloxi Shuckers, a season-high 3,673 fans in attendance were treated to a grandiose pyrotechnic display high above the Beau Rivage.
The Lookouts' surge was a big change after the Shuckers (2-1) out-scored their visitors in the first two games 10-2.
"I think there were plays that should have been made and pitches that should have been executed," Shuckers manager Mike Guerrero said. "They shouldn't have scored six runs in that inning. It just happened."
Shuckers starter Adrian Houser (0-1) was tuned up by the Lookouts for the second time in as many meetings.
The right-hander surrendered five runs in 4 2/3 innings in last year's Southern League Championship Series against the Twins' Double-A affiliate. Saturday, he was saddled with seven runs on nine hits and one walk in six innings. He also struck out five.
Despite facing the minimum through two innings, things got away from him in the third.
Second baseman Levi Michael scorched a run-scoring triple into the right field corner to get Chattanooga on the scoreboard. Shortstop Engelb Vielma and first baseman D.J. Hicks each singled in runs, followed by a run-scoring groundout from right fielder Travis Harrison. Left fielder Joe Maloney punctuated the inning with a two-run double off the right field wall.
Houser settled in after the rough inning, retiring the next nine Lookouts in order until the sixth. Catcher Stuart Turner reached with two outs in the sixth on a light hit down the first base line that stayed just fair. The former Ole Miss Rebel later scored on a single up the middle by Michael to push the Lookouts' lead to 7-3.
The Lookouts tacked on two more runs in the eighth on singles by Turner and Michael.
The offensive explosion was welcomed for a Lookouts team that mustered just two runs on seven hits in the first two games of the series. Just two games into the season, Mientkiewicz could already sense his team pressing to break out of its early offensive funk.
"When you don't have any at-bats, every game magnifies," Mientkiewicz said. "The hardest one to get is always the first one. Once you get the first one you usually settle down a little bit.
"When you look up two games in a row in the fifth inning and you're being no-hit, you could smell them squeezing the grains out of the bat."
Right fielder Kyle Wren led off the bottom of the first with a triple and later scored on a fly ball to right by second baseman Nate Orf.
The Shuckers took advantage of two errors in the second, pushing their lead to 2-0, and added a third run in the fifth on a single by designated hitter Brett Phillips.
Third baseman Brandon Macias stroked a two-run double into the right-center gap in the eighth, bringing the Shuckers within four, 9-5.
The Shuckers had several other chances with runners in scoring position but were unable to break through the same way the Lookouts did.
"We swung at a lot of pitches. We chased a lot of pitches out of the strike zone," Guerrero said. "When you do that and expand the zone, it's pretty difficult and that's what happened."
Chattanooga starter David Hurlbut (1-0) earned the win, allowing three runs on four hits and two walks.
Michael and Turner each had three hits in the game, with the Lookouts second baseman driving in a game-high three runs. Wren was the lone Shucker with two hits. He also scored twice.
The Shuckers will continue their five-game set against Chattanooga at 1:10 p.m. Sunday. Biloxi will send left-hander Wei-Chung Wang to the mound to face right-hander Aaron Slegers.
New shortstop Javier Betancourt tallied his first Double-A hit in the seventh with a screamer back up the middle. Mitch Garver was in the starting lineup at first base for the Lookouts but Mientkiewicz was pulled after first pitch due to a "contact malfunction."