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Published: Tuesday, 7/19/2005

A Granderson slam: Homer leading off 11th gives Mud Hens a win

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Scranton's Chris Coste slams into Hens catcher Sandy Martinez, who holds onto the ball for the final out in the fourth. Scranton's Chris Coste slams into Hens catcher Sandy Martinez, who holds onto the ball for the final out in the fourth.
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The first walk-off home run of Curtis Granderson's career couldn't have come at a better time.

Granderson led off the bottom of the 11th inning with a home run to give the Mud Hens a 2-1 victory over Scranton/Wilkes-Barre at Fifth Third Field last night.

"That's my first one, from Little League all the way up to now," Granderson said of the walk-off homer. "That was a good feeling to see my teammates at home plate waiting for me - and waiting to get out of here."

Granderson ended the game by taking a 3-2 fastball from Red Barons reliever Franklin Perez and bouncing it off the scoreboard in left for his 13th home run of the year.

"I was just looking for a fastball, just like I was all game long," he said. "He blew the first two by me, but the third one, he got one down that I could catch up to."

Granderson's hit closed the books on a game that saw both teams waste what few scoring opportunities they had The Red Barons, who saw a three-game winning streak snapped, put runners in scoring position in four innings but had double plays snuff three of those rallies.

The Mud Hens, who now have won 12 of their last 14 contests, had chances to score in four of the last six innings but could not deliver a hit in six at-bats with runners in scoring position.

The Mud Hens broke on top when Alexis Gomez hammered a long home run to right, his fourth of the season.

The shot left the ballpark and landed on St. Clair Street on the fly. Hens officials estimated the distance of the homer at 496 feet.

But Toledo did little else against Red Barons starter Pedro Liriano, who struck out nine and got 12 ground-ball outs.

"We just couldn't get the ball up in the air off him," Mud Hens manager Larry Parrish said. "We hit a few hard, but we never could get the ball up in the air. He did a good job against us.

"But our guys did a good job, too."

Toledo starter Andrew Good retired the first seven Red Barons before giving up back-to-back singles in the third. Good wiggled out of trouble by coaxing Shane Victorino to ground into a double play.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre seemed poised to tie the score in the fourth when, with two outs, Chris Coste singled and Carlos Ruiz doubled into the gap in right-center. But Coste, who was running on the 3-2 pitch to Ruiz, was thrown out at home by strong relay throws from Granderson to Ryan Raburn to Sandy Martinez blocking the plate.

The Red Barons finally tied the score in the sixth when Victorino singled to lead off, then stole second before moving to third on a groundout by Buzz Hannahan. Good struck out Mark Budzinski for the second out, but Coste lined a sharp single to left that tied the game.

NOTES: The start of the game was delayed 30 minutes by rain. Carlos Pena singled in the fourth inning to extend his current hitting streak to 13 games. Mike Hessman was a late scratch from the starting lineup after being struck just above the nose by a ball during batting practice. He was taken to the hospital but returned before the game ended. His status is day-to-day. Mark Woodyard left the game after falling on his right knee covering first base in the ninth. His status also is uncertain. Pitcher Wil Ledezma met with Dr. Kyle Anderson, who said surgery is not necessary to heal an elbow injury that forced him to miss his last two starts. The injury will be treated with rest. Mark Johnson will be promoted from Double-A Erie to start Thursday's game against Scranton. Johnson, who pitched for the Hens from 2000-02, is 4-1 with a 5.03 ERA for the SeaWolves.

Contact John Wagner at:

jwagner@theblade.com

or 419-724-6481.



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