HUNTSVILLE – Kris Bryant hit his league best 17th home run of the season, but the homer was the only run scored by the Smokies in a 5-1 road to loss to the Stars in Huntsville on Friday night. The Smokies were swept in the series and have lost five straight.
Huntsville (38-17) starter Andy Moye blanked the Smokies (26-28) over six full innings and earned the win. Moye (1-0) allowed one hit, walked thee and struck out three in his brilliant outing.
Julio Rodriguez started for Tennessee and allowed four runs, three earned, on three hits over 5 and 1/3 innings. Rodriguez (1-1) struck out one and walked a season high six in his second start with the Smokies.
Rodriguez kept the first place Stars without a hit over the first four innings before giving up a bunt single to Kentrail Davis in the fifth. Mitch Haniger walked to start the inning and he moved to second on Davis’ bunt and then went to third on a fly out from Greg Hopkins. A wild pitch from Rodriguez allowed Haniger to score and the Stars took a 1-0 lead.
Moye later dropped a sacrifice bunt in the fifth that was fielded by first baseman Charlie Cutler. Cutler came home with a throw on that bunt in attempt to retire Davis who tried to score from third. The throw was late and Davis scored to give the Stars a 2-0 lead.
Nick Ramirez led off the sixth with a home run and the Stars added another run in the inning to take a 4-0 lead on Rodriguez and the Smokies. Tony Zych relieved Rodriguez in the sixth and allowed one of three inherited runners to score. Rodriguez threw 92 pitches, 46 of which were strikes in the loss.
Austin Kirk pitched the eighth and allowed a run on two hits in the inning. Shawn Zarraga started the inning with a double and a single from Haniger moved him to third. A sacrifice fly from Davis scored Zarraga and the Stars took a 5-0 lead.
Huntsville relievers Casey Medlen and Tommy Toledo worked the final three innings. Toledo pitched a scoreless eighth, but allowed a home run to Bryant in the ninth.
Bryant was 1-for-3 in the loss with a stolen base and the lead off home run in the ninth.
The Smokies begin a five game home stand with the Birmingham Barons on Saturday night. Saturday’s game is highlighted by Tennessee’s “Salute to Heroes” night at Smokies Park. Tickets to that event and for all future Smokies games can be purchased online at http://www.smokiesbaseball.com and by calling (865) 286.2300.