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Last night was full of “almosts'' and “not quites'' for the Mud Hens. And the two most painful almosts came in the final frame of a 4-3, 10-inning loss to Richmond.
In the top of the 10th, the Hens almost threw out the go-ahead run at the plate, and in the bottom of the 10th the Braves' Bo Porter made a sliding catch on what almost was the game-tying hit.
The almosts turned a contest, which saw Toledo out-hit the visitors 11-7 and rebound from a 3-0 deficit, into a loss which snapped the Hens' four-game win streak.
“We got some key hits, but not enough of them,” said Hens manager Larry Parrish. “We had some balls that were hit hard that turned into outs. We have to get better at driving in runs [with two outs].”
Toledo tied the game in the top of the ninth when Danny Klassen's double off the wall in left-center brought home Andres Torres.
In the top of the 10th Hens reliever Eric Eckenstahler walked pinch-hitter Jesse Garcia on four pitches. “We did the unpardonable: we walked the leadoff hitter in the 10th,” Parrish said.
Donzell McDonald sacrificed Garcia to second, and one out later Porter stroked a soft single to right.
The throw home by Cody Ross seemed to arrive at the plate before Garcia, but Garcia slid wide and tagged the plate with his left hand, avoiding the tag by A.J. Hinch.
In the bottom of the 10th Toledo tried to rally with two outs as Hinch singled and Derek Nicholson drew a walk. But Warren Morris' sinking liner to left was grabbed by Porter.
The defeat wasted a solid performance by Hens' starter Nate Robertson, who rebounded from a rocky first inning in which Richmond scored three times.
McDonald led off the game with a single, but was forced at second on a bunt by Ramon Castro. The Braves then got a double by Porter and an RBI single by Hessman for their first run. Wilson Betemit walked to load the bases, and one out later Travis Wilson lined a two-run single to left.
After that Robertson settled down, allowing just one walk and three harmless hits over his final six innings.
“I thought Robertson was kind of rushing in the first inning,” Parrish said. “He got better as the game went on. He has pitched three good games; we just haven't scored when he has pitched.”
The Hens got one of the runs back in the bottom of the first thanks to the wildness of Braves starter Andy Pratt. With a runner on second and two outs Pratt walked three straight batters - Kevin Witt, Ernie Young and Tom Evans - to force a run home.
Toledo cut the lead to a single run in the second when Morris drilled a one-out double off the wall in left, moved to third on a wild pitch, then scored on Klassen's bloop single to right.
But the Hens didn't score again until the ninth as Pratt and two relievers stranded at least one runner in five of the first eight innings.
NOTES: Before the game the Tigers promoted Craig Monroe to Detroit. Monroe had a hit in each of his last nine games with the Hens and was batting .400 in 13 games. The Hens will play with 23 players on the roster through the weekend.