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Published: Monday, 8/2/2004

No doubt about it: Hens bad in losses

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Give the Mud Hens credit for one thing: In their recent losses, they haven't left any doubt they were beaten.

The Hens dropped a 10-5 decision to Indianapolis at Fifth Third Field yesterday, their third loss in the last four days. In those losses Toledo has been outscored 29-10; in their last five defeats the Hens have surrendered 59 runs.

Now that is losing with panache.

"When our pitching goes south, it really goes south,'' said Hens manager Larry Parrish. "It's either really good or really bad.''

The only ray of sunshine yesterday was that Columbus lost in Pawtucket, allowing the Hens to maintain a 2 1/2-game lead over the Clippers in the International League's West Division.

Hens pitchers had no problems with Indianapolis in odd-numbered innings, getting 15 outs without allowing a base-runner.

But oh, those even-numbered innings.

The Indians scored two runs in the second, broke the game open with six runs in the fourth, then added a pair of runs in the sixth. They didn't score in the eighth, but by that point they already had a 10-1 lead and held on to win for just the second time in their last six games.

The Hens broke on top with a first-inning run off Indianapolis starter Jorge De La Rosa.

With one out Eric Owens singled and advanced to third without a throw when Warren Morris singled to left.

Owens came home on Craig Monroe's sacrifice fly to left.

But the Indians took the lead for good in the second, which began with back-to-back singles. Hens starter Pat Ahearne coaxed Luis Figueroa to hit a comebacker that looked to be a potential double play, but Ahearne's throw to second was high, forcing Rayner Bautista to make a wild, late relay to first.

Indianapolis catcher Alex Delgado, who came into the contest batting .185, promptly blooped a double over Brant Ust's head at first that scored a run and put runners on second and third. Peter Bergeron added a sacrifice fly that scored Figueroa with the second run.

Another double play the Hens weren't able to turn in the fourth opened the floodgates for six runs. After the first two batters reached base, Jon Nunnally hit a grounder to Ust at first; Ust threw to second for the force, but wasn't able to complete the twin killing.

Figueroa followed by singling in a run and Delgado doubled in another. An intentional walk loaded the bases for ninth batter Steve Scarborough, who cleared them with a double to the wall in left-center. Scarborough later scored on a two-out single by Matt Erickson.

"We had a couple of chances to get out of those innings,'' Parrish said. "Those are little things that we can't afford to not do right now. We need to make the plays when they are presented. And we need to get the ribbies [RBIs] when they are presented too.''

Toledo dropped a run-scoring opportunity in the bottom of the second, when it loaded the bases with one out and had a tough player to double up in Nook Logan at the plate. But De La Rose struck out Logan, then got Owens to ground out to end the inning before retiring 12 more Hens in a row.

The Mud Hens tried to make things respectable by scoring three runs in the seventh and a single run in the ninth.

NOTES: Benji Gil was in uniform for Toledo but did not play yesterday. The parent Tigers signed him to a contract to replace Danny Klassen, who left the Hens to play for Canada in the Olympics. Yesterday's crowd of 8,802 fans at Fifth Third Field was the largest non-sellout in the ballpark's history. It also pushed the team's attendance for this season over the 400,000 mark to 402,786 in 55 games.

Contact John Wagner at: jwagner@theblade.com or 419-724-6481.



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