PAWTUCKET, R.I. It was a big victory in which the Toledo Mud Hens excelled at the little things.
Tough at-bats, clutch fielding, plus the yeoman work of Hens starter Pat Ahearne, all helped deliver a tough 4-2 triumph over the Pawtucket Red Sox, before 8,694 at McCoy Stadium last night.
It was Toledo s eighth win in its last 11 starts, including three of four from the reeling Sox.
I m excited we were able to do that, said Ahearne, who leveled his mark at 7-7. Hopefully we ll be able to keep this up.
The win allowed Toledo to creep to within one-half game of the West Division leading Columbus Clippers, who fell 6-5 last night to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Toledo spotted the Sox an unearned run in the first, then grabbed the lead in the second on Brandon Harper s two run homer.
Chad Alexander drew a one out walk off Pawtucket starter Byung-Hyun Kim. Kim, who was on a limited pitch count, and departed in favor of reliever Edwin Almonte. One batter later, Harper jumped on an Almonte fastball, and lined it over the left field fence. It was the first Triple-A homer for Harper, who was promoted from Double-A Erie on June 28.
But Pawtucket drew even, 2-2, in the third, after Ahearne served up doubles to Kelly Shoppach and Henri Stanley.
It appeared that Hens would waste another opportunity in the fifth, when they had runners at the corners and two away.
Alexander, facing Pawtucket reliever Ramiero Mendoza (0-1), fell into an 0-2 hole, before working his way back to a full count.
He then laced a single down the left field line, bringing in Danny Klassen with the go-ahead run.
Ahearne (7-7) settled into a groove, retiring 14 of 16 Sox through the seventh inning.
I was able to use all my pitches, said Ahearne, who hurled a complete-game one-hitter here, last year. I was able to keep the hitters off balance.
His infield backed him up with some stellar plays, including one by Klassen at short in the sixth on a sharp grounder by Cesar Crespo that prevented a run and kept the Hens in the lead.
The Hens gave Ahearne another run to work with in the top of the seventh. He departed with two out in the eighth, having allowed just five hits (three to Stanley) plus a walk, while striking out a season-high 10.
John Ennis closed the ninth and picked up his eighth save.