(MOBILE) - Orlando Mercado blasted a 3-run homer with two outs in the bottom of the 9th off closer Juan Sandoval to stun the Huntsville Stars, 4-2, and spoil a 6-inning, 3-hit shutout performance by David Welch, Wednesday night at Hank Aaron Stadium.
The BayBears won their 2nd game in the 4th of a 5-game series to improve to 22-31, while the Stars drop to 32-21 and miss an opportunity to move into a 1st-place tie with West Tennessee in the North Division.
The Stars lost for the 2nd time in the last six games when taking a lead into the 9th inning.
Juan Sandoval inherited a 2-0 lead in the 9th from Omar Aguilar, who pitched two scoreless no-hit innings in his Stars debut. Sandoval walked Yunesky Sanchez to start the inning, struck out Bryan Byrne, then walked Cesar Nicolas before Cyle Hankerd flied out to center for the second out.
Frank Curreri then doubled to right on an 0-2 pitch to score Sanchez and move Nicolas to third. Mercado, a .184 hitter with runners on base, then launched a 2-2 pitch over the wall in left for the decisive blow and his 2nd home run of the year.
Sandoval was tagged with his 2nd loss of the season, both coming in the last six games and both in blown save situations.
Mat Gamel's leadoff home run in the fourth, a titanic blast over the clubhouse building and batting cage beyond the wall in right field, staked the Stars to a 1-0 lead.
Alcides Escobar's leadoff home run in the 6th, his 5th of the season, made it 2-0. The Stars had Michael Brantley at 3rd base with nobody out in the 8th inning and could not push him home.
The Stars have now dropped 10 of their last 13 games, with 9 of the losses coming by either one or two runs.
The rubber game of the series Thursday night will send southpaw Brae Wright, who pitched 7 innings to win his last start against Birmingham, against BayBears' right-hander Hector Ambriz (2-6, 5.02).