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Published: Saturday, 6/15/2002

Homer harvest: Hens bury Columbus with 3 home runs

SPECIAL TO THE BLADE

COLUMBUS - When last night's game against division foe Columbus began with a gift error by Clippers pitcher Brian Rogers that deposited Andres Torres at second base - only to see the Mud Hens fail to move the leadoff hitter any further - team followers might have figured they were in for a long night.

It didn't help matters that in the bottom of the opening frame, Clippers leadoff man Kary Bridges quickly scored. The diminutive second baseman reached on a single, took second on Brian Powell's wild pitch and crossed home on a ground out that gave Columbus the early lead.

But the Mud Hens made up ground quickly despite being out-hit 11-6, utilizing three home runs in a 6-3 victory over Columbus at a chilly and windy Cooper Stadium.

Toledo rallied to score four unanswered runs, sparked by a two-run home run by Torres in the third.

Eric Munson added a homer to lead off the seventh, and Michael Rivera capped the home run binge with another homer in the Mud Hens' two-run ninth.

Former Mud Hen, Karim Garcia hit a homer to open the bottom of the seventh against Powell, pulling the Clippers within two runs.

“He was looking fastball, and he got it,” Powell said. “With us up, I was trying to get ahead of Garcia. But he got me.”

But rusty Clipper closer Brandon Knight, who spent the week with the parent club Yankees but did not pitch, struggled with his command trying to get work in during the ninth inning as Toledo added the insurance runs.

Knight's inning foreshadowed what was to come, as the Mud Hens' Oscar Henriquez labored to close out the game.

The 6-6, 270-pound right-hander allowed the Clippers to rally for a ninth-inning run and even had the bases loaded before Henriquez finally coaxed Alex Arias into a game ending pop up.

“It was close for a minute there, but we got through it,” said Powell, who limited Columbus to two runs over seven innings to improve to 8-2 with the win - a night after Toledo blew it in the ninth inning against Durham.

“I know early on, I was trying to be careful with them too, in order to stay away from a big inning.”

Hens outfielder Andres Torres has been invited to play in the fourth annual All-Star Futures Game that features some of baseball's top prospects. The game will be played July 7 at Milwaukee's Miller Park.

Torres, 24, a fourth-round pick in 1998, was hitting .223 with four triples, one home run, 15 RBIs and 15 stolen bases.



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