(HUNTSVILLE) - Matt LaPorta launched 2 HRs and drove in 4 runs, including a tie-breaking 3-run blast in the 7th inning, to power Huntsville to an 11-3 win over Jacksonville, Thursday at Joe Davis Stadium.
The Stars improve to 13-8 on the season and gain back a game on 1st place Carolina, now two games in front after they lost in the 9th inning last night to Chattanooga.
The Stars stopped Jacksonville's 5-game win streak and beat the Suns for just the 4th time in 21 games since the start of the 2006 season.
LaPorta's leadoff home run in the 2nd inning off starter James McDonald gave the Stars a 1-0 start. A one-out single tp left by Angel Salome scored Cole Gillespie later in the inning to make it 2-0. Michael Brantley's RBI single in the 4th pushed the Stars' lead to 3-0 and extended Brantley's hitting streak to 14 games.
Steve Hammond blanked the Suns on 3 hits through 5 innings before Juan Gonzalez led off the 6th with his 5th home run of the season to take the HR leadership in the Southern League.
With the Stars in front, 3-1, Hammond was relieved after six with 8 strikeouts and a walk on 5 hits. Reliever Robert Hinton was one out from getting out of the 7th inning, but allowed 2 unearned runs, instead.
Jamie Huffman, who led off with a walk and reached third on an Adam Godwin single, scored on a throwing error by Mat Gamel and Gonzalez followed with a double to tie the game, blowing the save for Hammond. The lead run was thrown out at the plate for the 3rd out when Gonzalez tried to score on a Greg Jacobs single.
Hinton wound up picking up the win in his inning of work after LaPorta unlocked the tie with a 3-run clout to left off Yhency Brazoban in the bottom half of the inning.
The Stars tacked on five more in the 8th to give them a season-high 11 runs matched by a season-best 14 hits. Cole Gillespie's 3-run double was the highlight of that inning.
The Stars take on the Suns' #1 blue chip prospect, southpaw Clayton Kershaw tonight. The Stars will send lefty Derek Miller (1-1, 2.75).