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Published: 8/16/2005

Kelly's the hero: Returns to Hens, gets game's only RBI

BY DAVE HACKENBERG
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Joel Zumaya struck out nine Charlotte batters while allowing only two hits in six-plus innings last night at Fifth Third Field. Joel Zumaya struck out nine Charlotte batters while allowing only two hits in six-plus innings last night at Fifth Third Field.
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Don Kelly re-joined the Mud Hens yesterday and was given what manager Larry Parrish called a trial run in the leadoff position.

If last night's game against Charlotte was any indication, Kelly might be there for awhile.

The shortstop had three hits, including a single that plated the only run of the game in the bottom of the ninth for a 1-0 Toledo victory at Fifth Third Field.

Kelly was recalled from Double-A Erie yesterday to fill a roster spot vacated when Curtis Granderson was called up by the parent Detroit Tigers.

The 25-year-old Kelly was with the Hens for 24 games from June 30 through July 27 before going on the disabled list with a left groin injury. Upon being activated on Aug. 10, he was assigned to Erie.

"I'm healthy again and it's good to be back," Kelly said before the game. "This team is having a great season and I'll do my best to help out anyway I can."

Mission accomplished.

Facing Charlotte closer Jeff Bajenaru in the ninth, Hens' pinch-hitter Jason Smith drew a leadoff walk and went to second on a sacrifice by Dewayne Wise.

Brandon Harper patiently drew another base on balls to bring Kelly up.

He immediately slashed a hit up the middle to plate Smith.

"Three hits and a game-winner to boot," Parrish said of Kelly's night. "Not a bad start. The ball he hit to right-center for a double [in the fifth inning] may be the hardest ball I've seen him hit at this level. He definitely got his feet wet tonight."

Earlier the Hens had two base-runners picked off first and wasted a bases-loaded, one out opportunity in the sixth.

But Kelly came up with the hit that ended it on a night the Hens could not have asked much more of their pitching staff.

Starter Joel Zumaya left to a standing ovation from the crowd of 6,245 after issuing a walk with two outs in the top of the seventh.

It was his fourth walk, but he struck out nine and surrendered just two hits in his longest stint since joining the Hens in mid-July. He'd gone six full innings in each of his previous four starts.

Zumaya said it wasn't his best outing, "but I feel like I battled and kept my team in there. I didn't have a good fastball. The velocity was up there OK, but I couldn't find the release point. I showed them that I had it, but I really relied on my off-speed stuff to get outs."

Charlotte's only threat against Zumaya came in the top of the fifth when Willie Harris ripped a two-out, opposite-field double off the wall in left.

Ex-Hen Greg Norton followed with a shot to first base that glanced off Carlos Pena's body. But Pena stayed with it, scrambled after the loose ball and flipped back-handed to Zumaya covering for the putout.

Mark Woodyard followed Zumaya to the mound, getting the last out in the seventh and striking out a pair of batters in the eighth.

Doug Creek worked the top of the ninth, also struck out two, and got the win to improve to 2-1.

Until scoring the winning run in the ninth, Toledo had trouble getting much out of its base-runners. Two Hens were picked off first.

Wise was nabbed on a sharp move by Charlotte starter Arnie Munoz after a leadoff single in the third inning.

In the fourth, Mike Hessman and Alexis Gomez stroked back-to-back singles with one out. But the Knights put on a play, calling for a pitch-out while first baseman Jorge Toca sneaked behind Gomez at first. The throw to first from catcher Raul Casanova was perfect.

The Hens loaded the bases in the sixth, but Gookie Dawkins lined to third and Wise flied to right.

Contact Dave Hackenberg at:

dhack@theblade.com

or 419-724-6398



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