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Published: Tuesday, 5/28/2002

Hens bunch their hits, beat Pawsox

SPECIAL TO THE BLADE

PAWTUCKET, R.I. - Proving the theory of timeliness over totality, the Toledo Mud Hens closed out their four-game stay in New England on a high note yesterday by taking a 5-3 victory over the Pawtucket Red Sox before 7,339 at McCoy Stadium.

The Hens, like their hosts, rapped out a total of seven hits. But five of the Hens' hits were bunched together in the fifth inning, when they scored four times and grabbed a lead they would never relinquish.

“We got big hits at the right time,” said Toledo designated hitter Derek Nicholson (1-for-4, 1 RBI). “That's the main thing. The last couple games we didn't. But we got [some] big outs at the right time, too.”

Starter Shane Loux (4-5) was the beneficiary. Loux gave up one run on six hits before being lifted with two on and none out in the sixth.

Toledo found Pawsox starter Don Wengert unhittable for the first four innings. Wengert (5-3) retired the first 12 men, using just 47 pitches to do it. The Hens didn't get the ball out of the infield until the fourth, when Nicholson flied out to left for the second out.

But matters changed in the fifth, when Craig Monroe broke up Wengert's perfect game bid with a single to left. Chris Wakeland then clubbed a two-run shot into the right-center-field stands.

It was Wakeland's fourth homer of the season, and third in the last four games.

The Hens scored twice more to make it 4-1, after a throwing error by PawSox first baseman Juan Diaz kept the inning alive.

“Wengert's a real battler,” said Nicholson. “He goes out there and throws a lot of strikes. But after the first at-bats, I think a lot of guys [just] kept the same approach.”

Eric Munson hiked the lead to 5-1 in the seventh with a solo shot. It was his team-high 12th of the season.

The PawSox made things interesting when, in the seventh, James Lofton cracked a two-run homer off reliever Eric Eckenstahler to cut the lead to two.

Oscar Henriquez came on in the eighth and got the final four outs to pick up his IL-best 13th save.

NOTES: Prior to the game, shortstop Oscar Salazar was optioned to Double-A Erie to create room on the Toledo roster for catcher Michael Rivera. Rivera, who was sent to the Hens by the Detroit Tigers Sunday night couldn't make it to Pawtucket in time for yesterday's game. Instead, he's scheduled to join the club in Ottawa, where tonight (7:05 p.m.) the Hens are set to begin a four-game set with the North Division-leading Lynx. ... Pawtucket manager Buddy Bailey was ejected in the eighth inning by plate umpire Roger Walling after a mild dispute over a called third strike to PawSox catcher Kevin Brown. Walling is the same arbiter who tossed Monroe out of Sunday's game. ... Toledo lefty Mike Maroth (7-1, 2.83) is scheduled to go against Lynx right-hander Julio Manon (5-3, 3.29) today.



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