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Published: Monday, 6/9/2003

Hens waste rally and fine start

SPECIAL TO THE BLADE

PAWTUCKET, R.I. - Waste not, want not. It's a tired old cliche.

Yet the Toledo Mud Hens were in want of plenty following yesterday's double losses to the Pawtucket Red Sox by scores of 8-7 and 2-0.

The Hens were guilty of wasting a terrific rally in the opener, which saw them erase a five-run gap, only to lose in extra innings.

And in the nightcap, Toledo squandered a strong pitching performance by right-hander Nate Rob-ertson when all the Hens could garner was a pair of base hits.

``It's just like we were tired,'' said Hens' manager Larry Parrish. ``We just couldn't do anything with the bats.''

Such was not the case in the opener.

Toledo stormed back from a 6-1 first-inning deficit, tying the game 7-7 in the sixth inning on Hiram Bocachica's two-run homer.

But victory eluded the Hens when Lou Collier singled home the winning run with two outs in the ninth, off Hens reliever Jason Jimenez (0-2).

That game featured a rare meltdown by Hens starter Shane Loux, the IL's winningest pitcher and owner of the league's second-best ERA, prior to yesterday.

Still, Loux's troubles didn't exactly catch Parrish by suprise.

The tipoff came during his pre-game warm-ups in the bullpen.

``Jonesy [pitching coach Jeff Jones] said before the game, `He's got nothing,''' Parrish said. ```Hopefully it will show up doing the game.' [But] it didn't. It was just one of those things.''

After his mates staked him to a 1-0 lead, Loux was blitzed for six runs on seven hits and never made it out of the first inning.

The big blow was a three-run homer by right fielder Cesar Crespo, which made it 5-1.

In all, Loux retired just two of 11 Pawtucket batters before giving way to reliever Corey Brittan.

But the Hens chipped away at the deficit, scoring three runs in the fourth, after loading the bases with none away off Pawtucket starter Ryan Rupe, to make it 6-4.

Then in the sixth, after A.J. Hinch had been walked by PawSox reliever Justin Kaye, Bocachica tied the contest with his sixth homer of the season.

The stalemate continued until the bottom of the ninth.

Jimenez, who came on in the eighth, had walked just five hitters all year (16 innings). But he issued three free passes in the ninth to load the bases. Collier made him pay by serving the game-winning hit inside the right-field line, just beyond Cody Ross' desperate lunge.

Pawtucket reliever Jason Shiell (2-0) earned the win.

``We battled back real well,'' said Parrish. ``But then we just shut down.''

In the nightcap, Robertson (3-4) went the full seven innings and allowed only five hits.

Unfortunately two of those were solo home runs by Earl Snyder and Justin Headley, both of which came in the third inning.

``If you only give up two runs in an outing, we'll take that every time,'' Parrish said. ``Both of them were home runs, but that's all right.''

Robertson kept the Hens in the game, but his teammates couldn't provide him with run support.

Pawtucket starter Paul Stewart (3-4) allowed just a second-inning single to Ernie Young and a leadoff double in the fifth to Bocachica.

Journeyman left-hander Bruce Chen, making his first appearance for Pawtucket after being optioned out by Boston, closed out the final two innings.

NOTE: Pat Ahearne, newly recalled from Double-A Erie, will make his first appearance of the year for the Hens tonight against Pawtucket right-hander Dicky Gonzalez (3-4, 4.04).



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