(BIRMINGHAM) - Mat Gamel's 2-run home run and the 6-hit pitching of Jeremy Jeffress, David Johnson, and Juan Sandoval gave the Huntsville Stars a 2-0 win in their road opener with the Birmingham Barons, Monday night at Regions Park.
Gamel's blast to right-center in the 2nd inning was preceded by a leadoff single by the Southern League's leading hitter, Angel Salome. Gamel's home run, his 19th of the season, just cleared the outstretched glove of a leaping Miguel Negron.
Both teams had plenty of scoring opportunities. The Stars, with 11 hits, hit into four double plays and left seven runners on base. The Barons hit into a pair of double plays, themselves.
But largely, it was Huntsville's pitching that killed the Barons' chances. After going only 2 1/3 innings in his debut with the Stars last Wednesday, Jeffress, the Brewers' top pick in the 2006 amateur draft, held Birmingham to just 3 hits over 6 innings. He also walked 4 batters, but struck out 4.
Johnson and Sandoval held the Barons scoreless on 3 hits in 3 innings, with Sandoval earning his 17th save of the year.
Back-to-back one-out singles by Victor Mercedes and Ricardo Nanita put two men aboard in the 2nd inning with just one out. However a hard line-out off the bat of Javier Castillo and an inning-ending fly ball by Brandon Allen canceled the threat.
The Barons' last chance to rally came in the 8th off Johnson. Robert Valido and Miguel Negron each opened the inning with base hits and moved up on Mercedes' sacrifice, but Johnson speared a liner by Ricardo Nanita, and turned it into a double play, doubling off Negron.
Martin Maldonado's 3-for-4 day paced the Stars, while Lorenzo Cain, Salome, Gamel, and Guilder Rodriguez recorded two hits apiece. Alcides Escobar, sitting on 170 hits, went 0-for-5 and is 2-for-18 in his last four games.
Tuesday night, Donovan Hand (2-4) will face southpaw Aaron Poseda (2-3).