Stars Move Within a Game of First

(HUNTSVILLE) - Michael Garciaparra went 3-for-4, including a triple, and drove in three runs to lead the Huntsville Stars to a 6-4 victory over the Tennessee Smokies, Friday night at Joe Davis Stadium.

The bullpen, which has blown 15 saves and logged a 4.82 ERA since May 15 when they held a five-game lead in the division, threw four scoreless innings to preserve the win.

Juan Sandoval collected his 12th save for starter David Welch, who won his 9th game -- his first in six starts.

The Stars erased a 2-0 Tennessee lead in the bottom of the 3rd with a 5-run rally that started with a one-out single and a stolen base by Lorenzo Cain. After starter James Russell walked Mat Gamel with two out, Angel Salome doubled off the wall in center field to drive in both runners and tie the game.

Cole Gillespie stretched his hit streak to 9 games with an infield hit, moving Salome to third. Gillespie then stole second and Michael Garciaparra singled to send in both runners to give the Stars a 4-2 lead.

With Matt Avery now in from the bullpen, Garciaparra stole second -- the third stolen base of the inning -- followed by Freddy Parejo's single to left to cap the scoring. Doug Deeds' two-out, 2-run home run in the 5th pulled the Smokies to within one,  5-4, but Garciaparra gave the Stars an insurance run with an RBI triple at the bottom half of the inning.

Welch (9-1) pitched the necessary five innings to get the win, giving up nine hits, walking one and striking out two. Steve Bray followed with three scoreless innings in relief, giving him a string of 7 scoreless innings over three appearances. Sandoval gave up a leadoff single in the 9th before retiring the next three hitters to end the game.

Saturday, right-hander Nic Ungs (2-0, 2.00) makes his 4th start fo rthe Stars. The Smokies counter with Donnie Veal (4-6, 3.67).