OTTAWA - The Mud Hens put together almost all the pieces of the puzzle last night. They outhit the Ottawa Lynx and played errorless ball - a fairly uncommon occurrence this season - but fell just shy, dropping a 5-2 decision before a meager crowd of 1,324 JetForm Park fans.
The loss, just Toledo's second in the past six games, dropped Toledo's record to 9-17, last in the International League's West Division.
Ottawa, in winning its seventh game in the past eight, improved to 16-12, and kept its hold on second place in the North.
Mud Hens starter Adam Bernero pitched well in his sixth start of the season, tossing six innings and giving up only two runs on four hits. One of those hits, ruled a double, was a fly ball by Ottawa's Mark Smith that Hens right fielder Chris Wakeland misplayed.
“I think that was a ball that should have been caught,” said Toledo manager Bruce Fields. The miscue allowed the Lynx's Curtis Pride to advance to third and later score Ottawa's first run on Rob Sasser's groundout to third.
Ottawa took a 2-0 lead in the sixth on a solo home run by Smith, his fourth of the season and his fourth in the past week.
The Mud Hens managed to tie the score in the seventh. Facing reliever Keith Evans, catcher Carlos Mendez sent a towering fly over the left-field wall for his third home run of the season.
The next batter, Marty Gazarek, doubled to left and scored the tying run when Lynx first baseman Talmadge Nunnari threw the ball into the Ottawa dugout while trying to pick Gazarek off at third base.
But Toledo couldn't maintain the shift in momentum, as Dave Borkowski (0-2) relieved and gave up three runs. The key blow in that inning was a triple by Ottawa catcher Jimmy Gonzalez that caromed off the wall in deep center, cashing in two runs.
“We got back in and tied it up late in the game,” said Fields, “but that pitch that Bor gave up the triple on was just a poor pitch, a slider that didn't do anything, right in the middle of the plate.
“When you do that to hitters at this level, they're going to get hits. You've got to make a better pitch in that situation.”
Evans picked up his second win of the year against no losses, while bullpen ace Bob Scanlan threw a clean final inning to earn his league-leading 10th save.
Kevin Tolar and Kris Keller mopped up for Toledo.
“You've got to give credit to Jimmy Gonzalez,” Ottawa manager Stan Hough said. “He had two strikes on him when he hit that (triple), and he hit it to the deepest part of the field.
“But we won on pitching tonight. Bobby (Munoz, Ottawa's starter) threw six scoreless innings, and Keith (Evans), Felipe (Lira) and Bobby (Scanlan) all pitched well. That's been our saving grace this year, the pitching.”
Tonight at 7:05, the Hens will send left-hander Adam Pettyjohn (1-2, 3.49) to the mound, while the Lynx will counter with right-hander Teddy Rose (2-1, 2.60).
The Hens placed outfielder Kurt Bierek on the seven-day disabled list, retroactive to May 1, with an injured left hand.
Bierek played in 22 games, batting .269 with two homers and six RBIs.
Last season, Bierek hit .265 with 19 home runs and 72 RBIs for the Indianapolis Indians in 128 games.
All International League teams must trim their rosters from 24 to 23 active players by tomorrow. That remains the roster limit until Aug. 10, when it reverts to 24.