DURHAM, N.C. - On a night when the Durham Bulls were honored as champs, the Toledo Mud Hens mostly played liked chumps.
The Mud Hens committed four errors and probably could have been charged with a couple more in a 9-4 loss yesterday to the two-time defending International League champions. That Toledo (3-4) outhit Durham (3-2) - 12 hits to eight - mattered little to Hens manager Larry Parrish, who watched the Bulls score six unearned runs.
“We shot ourselves in the foot tonight,” said Parrish. “And every time we did, they scored multiple runs. If we make a play here or there, we could have gotten out of the innings with less damage.”
The victim of the miscues was righthander John Ennis (1-1), who could have departed with five scoreless innings and a 1-0 lead rather than a 5-1 deficit. Ennis allowed just four hits, but hurt his cause with three walks and an error of his own, an errant pickoff attempt at second base in the fifth that led to two Durham runs.
“He didn t pitch poorly, but even he threw one away,” said Parrish of Ennis, who left after 83 pitches. “All night, we didn t make pitches to get us out of jams.”
In particular, the Hens were hurt by Durham s ninth-place hitter, shortstop Jorge Cantu. He notched a career high with three doubles and drove home four while scoring once himself.
“He s hitting in that spot for a reason,” said Parrish. “We didn t make a pitch to him all night. Everything was right down the middle - it s like we were throwing batting practice to him.”
The Bulls struck for three unearned runs after two were out in the second.
Jonny Gomes doubled, then scored when Toledo first baseman Andy Barkett couldn t snag a liner off the bat of Edwards Guzman.
Barkett was charged with the night s first error on the play, and Ennis couldn t minimize the damage, walking Jaret Sandberg before giving up a two-run double in the left-center field gap to Cantu.
Toledo s best chance offensively - while the game was in reach - came in the fifth when a single by Mike DiFelice and infield hits by Brant Ust and Nook Logan loaded the bases with no outs. But the Hens were able to plate just one run, that on a Danny Klassen sacrifice fly.
The Hens then put a mild scare into the Bulls in the ninth. Trailing 9-3, they again filled the bases with no outs. After Joe Vitiello struck out, Barkett drove the ball to the warning track in center, where Anton French made a sparkling over-the-shoulder catch.
Jason Smith scored on the sacrifice fly - the last of five in the game - but the Bulls had dodged a bullet. After Marcus Thames walked to reload the bases, Durham called on closer Al Reyes to secure the final out, which he did by getting DiFelice to pop up to short.
“We have the bases loaded twice tonight and only score one run both times,” said Parrish. “That just won t get it done. And we had the meat of the order up - the guys who ve been hitting.”
The teams will wrap up the two-game series at 7 tonight.