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Published: Tuesday, 8/17/2004

Hens continue to slide in August

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

The 2004 season is ending with a whimper for the Mud Hens.

Toledo lost 7-0 to Louisville at Fifth Third Field last night, managing just seven hits on offense while giving up at least seven runs for the sixth time in the last eight games.

Last night s loss was the Hens eighth in their last nine games at Fifth Third Field and dropped their August record to 2-12.

You get the feeling that there s not a lot of confidence flowing through the lineup right now, Hens manager Larry Parrish said.

With the pitchers, it seems we ve gone through three weeks where we ve only had a couple of good outings and we re behind all the rest of the time.

It looked as if the Hens would jump out in front when Chad Alexander tripled with one out in the first. But with the infield in, Louisville starter Dustin Moseley struck out Warren Morris before getting Andy Barkett to fly out.

In the next half-inning Toledo starter James Baldwin seemed to escape trouble when Rob Stratton opened with a triple to deep center, then was cut down at the plate when the next batter, Jim Chamblee, hit a grounder to Brant Ust at third.

Baldwin got Stephen Smitherman to pop out, but never could get the third out as the Bats scored four times. Corky Miller lined a single to left that moved Chamblee to second, and Kenny Kelly drew a four-pitch walk Baldwin had not walked a batter in 15 previous innings in August to load the bases.

Anderson Machado, batting ninth in the order, lined a shot into the right-field corner that Morris, who normally plays second base, was slow to reach for a bases-clearing triple.

Jermaine Clark popped up a bunt attempt, but the ball dropped between Baldwin and Barkett at first baseman for a single that brought home Machado.

The Hens seemed poised to cut into the lead with three hits in the second, but a double play and a hard lineout by Rayner Bautista allowed Moseley to wiggle out of trouble.

After that Moseley allowed just two hits and two walks in the next five innings and allowed just one Hens batter to reach second to claim his first Triple-A win this season.

[Moseley] was lucky to get out of that inning, because he could have given up three or four runs, Bats manager Rick Burleson said. At the time I told him, Count that as your bad inning, start getting back down in the zone with your stuff and you ll be all right. That s what he did, and he was all right.

The Hens, obviously, weren t all right after seeing that second-inning scoring chance pass.

Those first few innings went about as bad as they could go, Parrish said. We got a lot of hits in the second and ended the inning with a liner to shortstop. It seemed as if it was no contest after that.

Meanwhile Louisville added two more runs with two outs in the fourth. Smitherman and Miller hit back-to-back singles with one out, and with two outs Machado drew a walk. Clark then drilled a two-run single to center.

Kelly gave the Bats another run when he stroke a one-out shot off the scoreboard in left for his seventh home run of the year.

The Mud Hens will begin a four-game series in Durham at 7 tonight, with right-hander Pat Ahearne (9-4) starting for Toledo against the Bulls Jim Magrane (6-4).

NOTES: In the early innings gnats pestered the teams and spectators in the ballpark. According to Fifth Third Field groundskeeper Kris Fawcett, yesterday s warmer temperatures, following several cooler days, brought the gnats to life. When the sun went down, the gnats moved away from the fans and were attracted to the heat of the stadium lights. ... Pitcher Shane Loux met with doctors in Detroit yesterday and found out his season is over. The right-hander will meet with Dr. Lewis Yokum in Los Angeles on Thursday to have his ailing pitching elbow examined further. ... Catcher Brandon Harper was sent to Double-A Erie yesterday. Harper, the team s third catcher, saw limited playing time when Mike DiFelice was optioned by the parent Tigers to Toledo Aug. 7.

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



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