Last night the Mud Hens snatched victory from the jaws of defeat - then put victory right back into defeat's jaws.
Craig Monroe's two-out, two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth tied Toledo's game with Norfolk at 7-7. But in the top of the 10th the Hens allowed the Tides to score twice, thus claiming a 9-7 win that was the Hens' fourth defeat in the last five games.
The loss proved doubly painful when Columbus came from behind to win in Pawtucket and sliced the Hens lead in the International League's West Division to a game and a half.
Toledo's Franklyn German struggled in that final frame. After a leadoff double by Danny Garcia, German hit Victor Diaz with a pitch to but two on with none out. After a sacrifice by Craig Brazell, German intentionally walked Tom Wilson to load the bases.
German then unintentionally walked Prentice Redman to force in the go-ahead run, and Rodney Nye hit a roller to shortstop that was too slow to allow the Hens to get an out.
That ruined a comeback by the Hens that saw them rally from a 7-3 deficit after seven innings. In the bottom of the seventh Nook Logan beat out a line drive off the glove of Norfolk starter Randy Keisler for a one-out single, and one
batter later Monroe drilled a two-run homer off the building behind the right-field fence for his first home run since coming to Toledo Saturday on a rehab assignment.
In the ninth Brandon Harper led off with a single off reliever Tyler Yates, and with two outs Monroe's moonshot off the left-field scoreboard tied the game.
Norfolk had jumped out to a four-run in the second inning when Brazell led off with a single, then moved to second when Toledo starter Andy Van Hekken walked Wilson on four pitches. Redman tried to advance the runners with a sacrifice, but Hens catcher Brandon Harper threw out Brazell at third.
The next five Tide batters responded with base hits. Nye ground a single on a 1-2 pitch to load the bases, and David Bacani drilled an 0-2 pitch to the wall in right-center for a triple that cleared them.
Wilson Delgado's single past a drawn-in infield plated Bacani, and singles by Esix Snead and Garcia scored Delgado.
The Hens got one of those runs back in the bottom of the second when Warren Morris doubled with one out, and Brant Ust doubled him home.
Diaz slammed his 18th homer of the season to lead off the fifth for the Tides, but that shot was trumped by back-to-back homers by Ust and Harper leading off the bottom of the inning.
Ust's homer to left-center was his ninth this year, while Harper's shot over the scoreboard and onto Superior was his third home run of the season.
Norfolk scored a crazy run in the sixth. Van Hekken walked Nye and Mike Glavine sandwiched around a sacrifice and was replaced by Jason Karnuth. Snead lined a shot to right and the two runners advanced a base. Snead ran too far towards second, though, and Harper tried to throw out Snead as he retreated to first.
New shortstop Benji Gil had trouble catching Harper's throw while running to first; he threw wildly to the plate as Nye scored.
Norfolk added a seventh-inning run when Nye's bases-loaded single scored Victor Diaz.
The Hens end their brief series against Norfolk tinight.
NOTES: Because of tomorrow's off day, the Hens will skip left-hander Adrian Burnside's spot in the rotation. Right-handers James Baldwin and Pat Ahearne will start Thursday and Friday against Charlotte.
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