(HUNTSVILLE) - Donovan Hand went the distance to earn his first win for the Huntsville Stars, who broke a close game with a 6-run 7th on the way to a 9-2 victory over 9-game winner Carlos Torres and the Birmingham Barons, Monday night at Joe Davis Stadium.
The Stars split their 4th straight series to go to 10-10 and stay 3 games behind Northern Division leader Tennessee. The Barons drop to 12-8, allowing Mississippi to catch them for the Southern Division lead.
After being held to just four hits in each of their last two games, the Stars collected 13 hits. Five players in the lineup had a pair, with Angel Salome slugging a pair of doubles and Martin Maldonado hitting his first Double-A home run for the Stars.
The Stars took a 3-2 lead after three innings on Salome's line drive double to center to score Alcides Escobar, who led off the inning with a double.
Hand, from Hatton in Lawrence County, held the Barons scoreless on three hits after Lee Cruz homered in the 3rd to temporarily tie the game when the Stars broke the game open in the bottom of the 7th.
The Stars knocked around reliever Shaun Babula for 6 runs on 7 hits and a walk, giving up a hit to the first five batters to come to the plate. Salome led off with his second double, followed by singles from Cole Gillespie, J.R. Hopf, Mike Bell, and Maldonado who loaded the bases for Lorenzo Cain, who went 0-for-4 in his Stars debut.
Freddy Parejo and Escobar followed with two-run singles to cap the 6-run inning, giving the Stars a 9-2 lead.
Hand finished off his complete game, the 3rd by a Stars pitcher this season, by striking out Stefan Gartrell and getting Javier Colina to ground out to end the game with runners at 2nd and 3rd. He walked one, struck out two and was aided defensively by 4 double plays.
The Stars go on the road to Chattanooga for five games with lefty David Welch bidding for his 9th win against right-hander Jordan Smith (1-4, 5.94) starting at 6:05 CDT.