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Published: Sunday, 5/1/2005

Grilli gets first win

Mike Hessman rounds the bases after a fifth-inning home run off Columbus pitcher Alex Graman. Mike Hessman rounds the bases after a fifth-inning home run off Columbus pitcher Alex Graman.
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Jason Grilli's start last night was the longest of the season for him. Grilli's teammates made it mean something.

A four-run third inning to tie the score and Mike Hessman's two-run home run in the fifth helped the Mud Hens beat Columbus 6-4 last night at Fifth Third Field.

With his six innings pitched, Grilli got his first victory of the season.

The win, in front of an announced attendance of 6,145, put Toledo in front in the International League West.

"That was a nice comeback," Hens manager Larry Parrish said. "Jason wants to win and pitch well so bad that he sometimes gets out of control with his emotions. But he settled down and did a really nice job."

Grilli (1-2) spent most of last season with Triple-A Charlotte and also pitched eight games for the Chicago White Sox, winning two of them. He won last night despite letting a few pitches get away.

Toledo was down 4-0 going into the bottom of the third inning. In the second, Columbus first baseman Mitch Jones hit a

solo home run, his seventh of the season.

In the third, right fielder Michael Vento hit a three-run homer. The runs were unearned, because third baseman Jack Hannahan started off the inning with an error, putting ninth-place hitter Wil Nieves aboard.

Clippers left fielder Kevin Reese bunted Nieves over to second. Third baseman Russ Johnson walked, and the Mud Hens got one more out before Vento's shot.

Jones got another hit off Grilli, a single, but was caught stealing to end the inning.

In the bottom half of the inning, the Hens got consecutive doubles from Hannahan, Ryan Raburn and Curtis Granderson to score two runs. Then Chris Shelton hit his team-leading fifth home run to dead center, scoring Granderson.

The Mud Hens (13-8) wasted no time in taking the lead in the fifth inning. Shelton led off with a double off the wall, and Hessman homered.

"I didn't even look at it, I was just hoping it would get over [the outfielder's] head," Hessman said. "Our group of guys, we're never going to give up. Jason did a heck of a job keeping us right where we needed to be."

Clippers pitcher Alex Graman (1-2) lasted five innings and gave up nine hits.

Toledo catcher Brandon Harper extended his hitting streak to seven games, and Granderson's double was his team-leading ninth.

The Clippers (13-10) threatened in the seventh. John Ennis, who relieved Grilli, gave up a hit and walked two batters to load the bases with two outs. Parrish put in Doug Creek for Ennis, and Creek got Robinson Cano to strike out looking.

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