COLUMBUS - Much like his near four-year tenure as a member of the Detroit Tigers, Carlos Pena has battled to find consistency since being signed by the New York Yankees on April 15.
Last night in his first game against his former organization as a member of the Columbus Clippers, Pena returned to what at one time made him a hot prospect - the ability to hit the long ball.
After hitting a combined 15 home runs during three stays with the Mud Hens, he smacked two last night to lead Columbus to a 4-3 victory at Cooper Stadium.
Pena also knocked in the game-winning run in the 11th inning with a two-out, bases-loaded single off Hector Mercado (3-2).
"We know him well," manager Larry Parrish said. "We didn't pitch him like I wanted us to [when he hit the home runs] but Mercado pitched him the way he was supposed to pitch him and he just fisted it over the shortstop's head."
Pena went 3-for-6, with the first homer coming off Mark Woodyard in the sixth and the second off Corey Hamman in the eighth.
Because Zach Miner was unable to start on the mound for the Hens because of an ankle injury, Alex Herrera started and pitched three scoreless innings.
Woodyard then went the next three, with Pena's home run being one of three hits he allowed.
Although the Mud Hens led 1-0 after a solo home run by Jack Hannahan in the second and took a 3-1 lead in the seventh, they left the bases loaded in the fifth.
Toledo also got runners on second with less than two outs two other times but failed to drive them in.
"We knew we were pitching the bullpen, so we were very happy [with our pitching]," Parrish said. "We had some opportunities early. The middle of the lineup had runners on base and didn't drive them in. After we scored the two runs in the seventh, I don't think we had any other base runners over the last few innings."
In the seventh, Mike Hessman reached on a leadoff walk and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Brian Peterson. Kevin Hooper and Ryan Raburn followed with back-to-back doubles to give Toledo a 3-1 lead.
Ryan Ludwick and Josh Phelps struck out to end the threat.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Clippers' Terrence Long hit a two-out homer over the right-field fence.
Then to lead off the eighth, Pena came through with a game-tying home run well beyond the right-field fence.
Columbus' Danny Garcia singled to lead off the 11th against Mercado.
After Jason Conti struck out, Mercado intentionally walked Russ Johnson but got Long to line out.
He walked Rob Stratton and Pena then came through with the game-winning hit.