BUFFALO - Was it a thing of beauty? Not especially. But in baseball, it's all about the result, so last night's 5-4 triumph by the Toledo Mud Hens over the Buffalo Bisons looked good enough sitting in the win column.
The Mud Hens committed four errors, tying a season high, but considering that, they got off easy.
"We don't always win pretty," said
Toledo manager Larry Parrish. "But we're winning."
Brant Ust knocked in four runs, three of them on a sixth-inning homer that put the Hens ahead for good.
"We're doing what it takes to win," said Ust, who filled the gap left by absent slugger Joe Vitiello (personal leave). "We're kind of like a hockey team [playing] a man down."
The Toledo defense started out shoddily to say the least, and certainly didn't do starter Andy Van Hekken (9-2) any favors.
"Van Hekken did a whale of a job tonight," said Parrish. "Even though he only went five innings. We played poor defense. They gave us four [errors] and we made a couple more that they didn't give us. For him to hold them down, to me, that was as good a game as he's pitched all year."
The Hens did a sharp about face and wound up turning four double-plays.
The most important of those came in the bottom of the ninth and sealed the win.
With five wins and a loss, the Hens have assured themselves of a winning record on the current eight-game swing through Scranton and Buffalo.
And coupled with the double-header loss by Columbus at Durham, the Hens have lengthened their West Division lead to 3 1/2 games.
Three of the Toledo miscues came in the bottom of the first inning, but the Mud Hens were fortunate to emerge trailing only 1-0.
The Hens replied with a run in the top of the fourth inning, after Ust drove Greg Norton home with a bouncer to shortstop.
But Buffalo came back with two runs in the bottom of the fourth, one of them unearned.
In the fifth, Warren Morris singled in Danny Klassen to bring Toledo within a run at 3-2.
Then in the sixth, Ust caught hold of a fat slider from Bison starter Jason Davis (2-1), and bounced it off the left field screen.
That scored both Norton and Eric Owens and staked the Hens to a 5-3 lead.
"I saw something hanging, and I was able to get to it," Ust said.
Jason Karnuth, the second of three Hens relievers pitched a stellar 22/3 innings, and put the game into the hands of closer John Ennis.
Ennis allowed two runners, but got Josh Bard to ground into a game-ending twin killer.
Ennis is now a perfect 10-for-10 in save opportunities.
NOTES: The Hens, already left shorthanded by the absence of Vitiello, lost right-handed pitcher Rick Kirsten, who was sent down to Double-A Erie. Toledo was spared another loss when right-handed pitcher Robert Novoa was promoted from Erie to Detroit after the Tigers put Gary Knotts, another right-hander, on the 15-Day Disabled List ... Center fielder Alex Sanchez ended his brief, two-game rehab assignment, and will return to Detroit. Sanchez, who went 0-for-10 (with six strikeouts) with the Hens, was nursing a strained right hamstring ... RHP Shane Loux (7-9, 5.05) will get the start for the Hens, today (1:05 p.m.) opposite Buffalo RHP Kyle Denney (7-2, 4.04).
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