INDIANAPOLIS - When a starting pitcher grants six walks, he's rarely around long enough to pick up the win.
But Toledo pitcher Zach Miner did just that as the Mud Hens sent the Indianapolis Indians to their sixth straight loss last night, 6-1.
The Hens were able to battle through Miner's control problems courtesy of the Indians' inept offense. Miner walked the leadoff batter in each of the first two innings but both failed to score.
"[Miner] wasn't aggressive with his fastball early in the game," said Hens pitching coach Jeff Jones.
"He was getting his change-up and breaking ball over consistently, but as the game went on, he got more confidence in his fastball."
The Hens can't complain that they didn't have their own chances early.
In each of the first three innings, the Hens took two walks without scoring. In the third, the first two batters took walks, but popups from Mike Hessman and Ryan Raburn bracketed a fly ball from Alexis Gomez to keep the Hens scoreless.
Toledo finally nicked the Indians in the fifth. Kevin Hooper led off with a home run to left-center field. After Marcus Thames accepted the seventh walk of the night, Gomez hit a towering two-run homer to right to stake Miner to a 3-1 lead.
In the Indians' third, Bobby Hill led off with a single and scored on a base hit from Ray Sadler. Miner walked the next two hitters but retired Ronny Paulino on a fly ball to end the rally.
From there Miner held the Indians scoreless over the next four frames. In the seventh, he walked the leadoff batter and gave up a single to Jose Bautista. But then he got two harmless fly balls and a groundout to frustrate the Indians again.
"He hung in there," said Jones. "He's thrown that way on more than one occasion this year. He's a young pitcher and I don't think he realizes what he has.
"But when he does, he gets more aggressive with the fastball [and has success]."
After Toledo added a run in the sixth, Gomez hit another two-run homer in the seventh for his seventh of the year.
"I think they were fastballs, but I don't know," said Gomez. "I just closed my eyes and swung hard.
"They were both up in the strike zone, and when a pitcher makes a mistake like that, you can't miss.
Because when they throw you a dirty pitch, they're the ones laughing at you."
Gomez continued his torrid plate work after hitting .380 for the month of August.
"It's important that we keep playing well, especially in this place," he said. "We only won three games here all year. The more games you win the more comfortable you are going into the playoffs.
"I hope we continue to play like this and go to the finals."
The Hens continue their road trip with a game at Columbus tonight. Toledo's Wil Ledezma (4-2, 4.50 ERA) is scheduled to start. Columbus had not named a starter as of press time.
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