For seven innings Toledo s Shane Loux and Norfolk s Matt Ginter engaged in a dandy pitchers duel at Fifth Third Field last night.
But the Toledo bullpen ruined everything Loux had done, opening the floodgates for the Tides in the final two innings.
Norfolk scored four times in the eighth and once more in the ninth to claim a 6-2 win.
The loss was the Hens second straight to Norfolk and their fifth in the last seven games.
“Shane Loux threw the ball well today, and he deserved better than that,” said Hens manager Larry Parrish.
Loux allowed just one run in the first seven innings, striking out five and walking only one in an economical 72 pitches.
Parrish said afterwards he gave no thought to taking the right-hander out before the eighth. In fact, he thought about letting Loux start the ninth.
But Loux never got that chance.
With one out in the eighth and the Hens clinging to a 2-1 lead, Esix Snead singled. He moved to second on a groundout by Gerald Williams, then stole third before coming home to tie the game when Victor Diaz slapped an RBI single past Loux into center.
“He didn t have very good swings at breaking balls all series,” Loux said of Diaz. “I thought the pitch I threw was the right pitch, but he put a better swing on it and it ended up costing us a game.”
Parrish said Loux might have been better served by bouncing an off-speed pitch to Diaz instead of throwing a strike.
“The count is 2-2, so throw the ball out of the zone and try to get a guy to chase,” Parrish said. “Somewhere along the line [Loux] threw to a bad catcher and now he doesn t want to take a chance.”
Loux hung his head as the line drive by Diaz just eluded his grasp, then handed the ball to Parrish and left in favor of David Cortes.
But Cortes couldn t keep the game tied. He allowed a double to Craig Brazell that moved Diaz to third, then a two-run double to Raul Gonzalez to the deepest part of the field.
Mike Jacobs was intentionally walked, but that backfired when Rodney Nye singled home Gonzalez. Cortes walked Wilson Delgado to load the bases and was replaced by Matt Anderson, who ended the threat by getting Mike Collins to ground into a fielder s choice.
Anderson got nicked for an unearned run in the ninth when Snead walked, moved to second on Anderson s errant pickoff throw, took third on a sacrifice by Williams and scored when Brazell greeted reliever Eric Eckenstahler with a single to right.
The bullpen s second implosion in as many days also spotlighted the Hens troubles taking advantage of scoring opportunities.
The Hens scored a run in the fourth when Andy Barkett and Danny Klassen hit back-to-back doubles, but Klassen was stranded at second when the next two batters were retired.
In the fifth the Hens scratched out another run when Brant Ust scored on a two-out double by Warren Morris. The next batter, Marcus Thames, singled to left, but Morris was thrown out at the plate to end the inning.
In the seventh a scoring threat was blunted when Rich Gomez was thrown out at third on a grounder into the hole by Guillermo Rodriguez. The next batter, Nook Logan, hit a single that might have scored Gomez.
“We re beating ourselves. We re helping the other team too much,” Parrish said. “Whether it s errors, not making a key play, or whatever.
“And we re not pitching through it. We re not pitching well enough to pick that up.”
The final game of the four-game series with the Tides begins at 7 tonight, with the Hens Andy Van Hekken (1-2) facing Norfolk s Aaron Heilman (0-1).
NOTES: With two runs yesterday the Hens have now scored just 19 runs in six starts by Loux, and eight of those runs came in one game. ... Joe Vitiello was kept out of yesterday s lineup because of back stiffness. His status is day-to-day. ... Vitiello stole second base in the first inning Wednesday for his first stolen base since May 24, 2002. He now has 16 stolen bases in his 14-year professional career. ... A familiar face in the Norfolk dugout is pitching coach Dan Warthen, who was the pitching coach of the Tigers from 1999-2002.
Contact John Wagner at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6481.