(HUNTSVILLE) - The Huntsville Stars blew a 6-2 lead and are on the verge of losing their lead in the Northern Division after an 8-6 loss to the Birmingham Barons at Joe Davis Stadium, Thursday night.
The Barons improve to 27-20 and maintain a 5-game lead over Jacksonville in the Southern Division, while the Stars watched their 5-game lead in the North evaporate into a tie with West Tennessee with their 4th straight loss and 6 of their last 7 since sweeping Tennessee in five games.
The game see-sawed back and forth with Birmingham taking an early 2-0 lead on a line drive single by Robert Hudson in the 2nd inning and a Javier Castillo double in the 3rd.
The Stars rallied back to take a 6-2 lead after five. Angel Salome led off with an opposite field home run to right field, his 3rd of the season and first allowed by Barons' starter Kyle McCulloch in 43 innings. Mike Bell, Michael Brantley, and Alcides Escobar followed with consecutive singles to put the Stars in front, 3-2.
After a fielder's choice added another run, Matt LaPorta tripled and Cole Gillespie singled to cap off the 5-run rally.
Birmingham answered right back with three in the 6th off starter Derek Miller on a 2-out, 2-run double by Robert Hudson and an RBI single by Robert Valido, reducing the Stars lead to one.
The Barons took back the lead in the 7th off loser Robert Hinton (2-2), sending seven men to the plate. Castillo singled in a run with one out and a passed ball with the bases loaded gave them a 7-6 lead, which they held.
The Barons put across an insurance run in the 8th on a base hit by Victor Mercedes, snapping Joe Bateman's 13 2/3-inning scoreless streak.
Friday night, southpaw David Welch goes for his 7th win against Barons' right-hander Justin Cassel (3-2, 3.83).