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Published: Monday, 8/11/2003

Hens drop 4th in row

SPECIAL TO THE BLADE

COLUMBUS - For any team contending in division and wild-card races, a loss is hard to bear, but the myriad ways the Mud Hens have been losing is what's really frustrating.

Last night, in the series finale at Cooper Stadium, Toledo outhit the Clippers 13-6 - they gave up no hits to the hosts in innings 4 through 8 and allowed only two hits total over the final eight innings - but lost 4-3 in 11 innings.

The Mud Hens (59-63) lost their fourth in a row and dropped to 10 games behind first-place Louisville (69-53) and 21/2 games behind second-place Columbus (62-61) in the International League-West Division.

“Yeah, [the series] didn't go the way we wanted,” said Toledo's Brant Ust, whose team lost to the Clippers 8-4 on Friday and 11-8 on Saturday.

“I think maybe we made the mistake of putting too much pressure on ourselves this weekend. Hopefully we'll get back home and get something going there - put an end to this streak and get a `W'.”

Toledo has four consecutive games at home, today and tomorrow against Charlotte and Thursday and Friday versus Norfolk. The Mud Hens are 3-7 against both the Knights and the Tides.

“Every game is important from here on out,” Ust said, referring to the races in the division and for the wild-card where the Mud Hens remained 51/2 games behind Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (64-57).

Toledo began the losing streak with a 2-1 loss in 10 innings against Indianapolis as it was outhit 8-3.

The Mud Hens then gave up an eight-run eighth inning to Columbus in the series opener, and that was followed by the Saturday loss which included four errors and three separate comeback attempts which were answered by the Clippers each time.

“We had a rough series,” manager Larry Parrish said. “We were leading that first game 3-0 going into the eighth, and everything went downhill since that eighth inning. [Saturday] night, we could've had an easy one, but that's the game we didn't pitch.”

Andres Torres led off the game with a single and scored on a single by Ernie Young, and Columbus answered with two runs in the third. Both offenses went quiet in the middle innings before Toledo tied the game at 2-all when Yohanny Valera singled and scored on a single by Cody Ross.

The Clippers regained the lead in the bottom of the inning without the benefit of a hit, drawing three of their eight walks and scoring on a sacrifice fly by Nate Rolison.

Back-to-back doubles by Patrick Lennon and Ust tied the game at 3-all to send it into extra innings.

In the 11th, reliever Franklyn German got Drew Henson to fly out, but hit John Rodriguez with a pitch. Marcus Jensen immediately followed with a game-winning double to left-center field.

Nate Robertson (8-7, 3.24 ERA) will pitch for Toledo tonight against Charlotte's Mike Porzio (5-6, 5.31).



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