WADSWORTH / BLADE Enlarge
WADSWORTH / BLADE Enlarge
Last night the team with the best record in the International League faced the team that has hammered it repeatedly this season.
The result was another bludgeoning of the Mud Hens by Buffalo, this time by a 9-6 score at Fifth Third Field.
The loss snapped a nine-game winning streak by Toledo, which fell one short of the franchise's modern-day record for consecutive wins. A 10th straight victory would have tied the record set by the 1974 squad and tied by the 1980 team.
"We didn't pitch too well tonight," manager Larry Parrish said. "We took the lead, but we couldn't hold them off. We made a couple of nice defensive plays, but we made a miscue at the end of one and that brought us down."
The Bisons' winning rally began in the sixth after Toledo had bounced back from early deficits of 3-0 and 4-2 to build a 6-4 advantage. Singles by Jeff Liefer and Andy Abad sandwiched around a walk to Ernie Young loaded the bases with none out off Hens starter Jason Grilli. Ryan Ludwick hit into a fielder's choice that forced Liefer at home, but Jason Cooper singled home Young.
Dusty Wathan then hit a grounder that resulted in a force of Abad at the plate, but Sandy Martinez threw wildly to first to allow Ludwick to score the tying run.
Then Joe Inglett's grounder off Carlos Pena's glove at first bounced to Ryan Raburn at second, but Raburn couldn't pick the ball up and Cooper scored the go-ahead run.
"That did seem like it did [deflate us]," Parrish said. "There was a momentum shift right there."
After scoring six runs on 10 hits in five innings against Buffalo starter Jason Davis, the Hens managed just one hit and two baserunners off three Herd relievers over the game's final four innings.
Steve Watkins threw two scoreless innings, Andrew Brown shut out the Hens in the eighth, and Jake Robbins got the game's final three outs to earn his 15th save.
"Their bullpen did a good job against us - they held us down," Parrish said. "We didn't score in the last four innings, and we didn't mount a whole lot. It might have been a combination of them pitching well and us going flat after they came back and took the lead."
Buffalo's victory ended its four-game losing streak and continued its domination of Toledo. The Bisons won 3 of 4 meetings between the two teams in Buffalo, outscoring the Hens 46-17.
The Bisons broke on top with a first-inning run off Grilli when Inglett lined a triple off the wall in right-center, and one out later Mike Kinkade singled him home. That run was the first Grilli had allowed this month following 14 shutout innings.
The Bisons tacked on two more in the second when Ryan Garko drew a leadoff walk and Abad drilled a home run to right, his 17th of the season.
The Mud Hens cut the lead to a single run in the third when Don Kelly singled and Curtis Granderson hit an opposite-field home run, his fourth homer in July and 12th of the season.
Buffalo got one of those runs back in the fourth when Ludwick's RBI double scored Abad, but Toledo bounced back with a three-run fourth to grab a 5-4 lead.
Pena doubled, and one out later Jason Smith singled him to third. Pena scored on a groundout by Dewayne Wise, and Kelly singled in Smith. Kelly stole second, then came home on a single by Martinez.
Toledo added a run in the sixth when Alexis Gomez was hit by a pitch, stole second, then scored on a single by Smith.
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