Northern Division Race Tightens with Stars' 3rd Straight Loss

(HUNTSVILLE) - The Huntsville Stars' lead in the Northern Division shrunk to one game after Stefan Gartrell scored the winning run on an error by Mike Bell in the 10th inning in Birmingham's 6-5 victory over the Stars, Wednesday night at Joe Davis Stadium.

The Southern Division-leading Barons improve to 26-20, winning 7 of their last 10, while the Stars have lost 5 of their last 6. The West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx moved to within a game of 1st by beating Chattanooga, 6-4.

Gartrell doubled with one out in the 10th and scored when a ball hit by Cole Armstrong caromed off 2nd baseman Mike Bell into foul territory, allowing Gartrell to score easily.

Chris Errecart and Freddy Parejo singled with two out in the bottom half of the 10th, but were stranded after Angel Salome hit into a game-ending force play. Jason Shiell took the loss in relief.

Johnny Lujan picked up the save for John Link, Birmingham's closer, who opened the 9th for the Barons. Link retired the first two hitters before Michael Brantley singled, stole second base and scored on a game-tying base hit by Alcides Escobar.

The Stars rallied back from a 5-2 deficit in the 8th inning off reliever Fernando Hernandez, who gave up a pair of singles and a walk with no one out, then walked Mat Gamel on four pitches to cut the score to 5-3.

Derek Rodriguez was then brought in from the bullpen. He hit Matt LaPorta with a pitch to force in another run, but struck out Cole Gillespie and Chris Errecart, then forced a ground out from Freddy Parejo to end the inning.

Errecart had a pair of doubles and a single in five at-bats to push his batting average over the .300 mark

While one David Cook was being crowned the new American Idol, the other went 2-for-3 with a home run, a pair of walks and two RBIs.

Starter Steve Hammond went 6 innings for the Stars, giving up 9 hits and walking 2, and striking out 3, raising his league-leading season total to 63. Clayton Richard gave up 4 hits in 7 innings, walking one and striking out 6.

The Stars passed the 50,000 mark in season attendance last night. 

Southpaw Derek Miller takes the mound for the Stars, Thursday night, against Barons' right-hander Kyle McCulloch at 7:05 pm.

Courtesy The Huntsville Stars