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Published: Sunday, 8/8/2004

Van Hekken can t save Hens


RICHMOND, Va. Even Andy Van Hekken couldn t find any anti-lock brakes to stop the Toledo Mud Hens losing skid.

The left-hander, who had won nine straight decisions (17 starts), struggled through 5 1/3 innings before his personal streak ended in Toledo s 4-2 loss to the Richmond Braves at The Diamond last night.

While Van Hekken s winning streak was terminated, the Mud Hens losing streak was extended to six games.

The good news is, the Hens didn t lose much ground to front-running Columbus in the International League s West Division. The Clippers split a doubleheader with Durham, leaving Toledo one game behind.

Van Hekken hadn t lost since April 22. His bid to join Chuck Seelbach in Toledo s record book Seelbach won 10 straight in 1971 unraveled in the second inning.

After a leadoff walk to Luis Lopez, Van Hekken surrendered back-to-back-to-back doubles by Ryan Langerhans, Mike Hessman, and Damon Hollins. A fourth straight hit, a single by Wilson Betemit, gave Richmond a 4-0 lead it didn t relinquish.

Van Hekken allowed 10 hits and two walks while dropping to 9-3.

He s pitched as well as you could hope for, Toledo manager Larry Parrish said. Tonight he just had one bad inning.

Either we re not doing something when we need it, or we re coming up just a little bit short, Parrish said. One pitch or one hit here or there.

Right now, we aren t swinging the bat very well. We can t outscore a bad inning or a key baserunning mistake or a key error, or whatever. If we glitch right now, we can t overcome it.

The best the Hens could do last night was Andy Barkett s RBI double and Benji Gil s RBI groundout in the sixth inning off Richmond starter Travis Smith (8-2). Toledo had a runner on third before the right-hander ended the inning with a strikeout.

That was the Mud Hens last threat. Hard-throwing setup man Roman Colon threw two scoreless innings, and Matt Whiteside finished with a perfect ninth, setting a Richmond record with his 27th save.

Toledo finished with six hits, two by Eric Owens.

Parrish says the Mud Hens are in dire need of some offense to replace that of shortstop Danny Klassen (playing for Canada in the Olympics) and Joe Vitiello, who quit recently. Vitiello was hitting .328 with 16 homers and 70 RBIs.

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