KODAK, Tenn. (release) -- Looking to win their fifth consecutive game, the Tennessee Smokies were unable to overcome three home runs fell to the Birmingham Barons 5-3 Sunday evening in front of 4,013 at Smokies Park. The Smokies will now head to the All-Star break with a 35-35 record.
Smokies starter Trey McNutt struggled to fool the Barons hitters, giving up a second inning home run to Seth Loman to give the Barons the early 1-0 lead.
Tennessee answered right back with two runs their second inning. Rebel Ridling led off with a walk and moved to second on Matt Cerda’s base hit. With two outs, Elliot Soto hit an infield singled to score Ridling and one batter later Logan Watkins singed home Cerda to give the Smokies a 2-1 lead.
With the game tied at two, Barons center fielder Jonathan Gaston homered to right field to give Birmingham a one run lead, 3-2.
Two innings later Gaston homered again off McNutt to put the Barons ahead 5-2 and would end the night for McNutt, who lasted 5.2 innings allowing five runs on nine hits while striking out three.
The Smokies would plate a single run in the seventh inning, again with two outs. Soto singled and scored on a triple by Watkins to narrow the Smokies’ deficit 5-3.
The Smokies bullpen continued to be dominant. Casey Harman, Brian Schlitter and Alberto Cabrera combined to go 3.1 innings no runs on only two hits.
The Smokies will take the next three days off for the Southern League All-Star Game being held at Smokies Park. Four Smokies players will be participating in the mid-summer classic. The second half of the 2012 campaign will kick off on Thursday, June 21 in Jacksonville, Fla. The Smokies will return to Smokies Park on Tuesday, June 26 for a five-game series with the Birmingham Barons. For tickets and more information fans can visit www.smokiesbaseball.com or call 865-286-2300.