BUFFALO - It was less than a week ago that the Toledo Mud Hens rocketed out to an eight run lead, 11-3, only to wind up blowing the game 19-18.
So last night, when the Hens fell into an 8-0 chasm against the Buffalo Bisons, one could have held hope, however faint, that a comeback might be in the offing.
Unfortunately for the Hens, there was no such miracle rally. Instead Toledo absorbed an 14-3 thrashing by the Bisons before 14,714 at Dunn Tire Park.
"We got it handed to us tonight," said Hens manager Larry Parrish. "But it's been a good road trip. Now we've got to go home and play well."
Despite the rout, the Hens remained 2 1/2 games ahead of the Columbus Clippers - 5-2 losers at Durham last night - in the West Division pennant race, and went 5-3 on the road against the top two teams in the North - Buffalo and Scranton.
Hens lefty Adrian Burnside (4-6), the victim of last Sunday's meltdown in Scranton, was rocked again by the Herd.
Burnside, who will shortly leave to join the Australian Olympic team, lasted just 21/3 innings and gave up the first eight Bison runs.
The first two runs came on Jhonny Peralta's first inning
homer, his 11th of the season. Peralta, the league's third-leading hitter, wound up going 4-for-4 with two walks and four RBIs.
Burnside escaped another jam in the second, but in the third he was lit up for six more runs, three of which were plated by Dusty Wathan's bases-clearing double.
"It's no secret," said Hens first baseman Brant Ust, "those guys can swing. They've got some Nintendo numbers up there."
Hens hurlers surrendered 19 hits, and matters got so desperate that backup catcher Guillermo Rodriguez was called upon to pitch the eighth.
"In a game we didn't have a chance to win," said Parrish, "we were just trying to save the bullpen."