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Published: Sunday, 7/2/2006

Ludwick homer pivotal for Mud Hens

Mud Hens outfielder Tike Redman tracks his fly ball in the fifth inning last night at Fifth Third Field. Redman was 0-for-2. Mud Hens outfielder Tike Redman tracks his fly ball in the fifth inning last night at Fifth Third Field. Redman was 0-for-2.

For the first six innings of last night s game, Indianapolis starter Oliver Perez made the Mud Hens batters look silly.

With one swing of the bat, Ryan Ludwick made none of that matter.

Ludwick s two-run home run in the seventh lifted Toledo to its fourth straight win and seventh in its past eight games, 2-1 over the Indians at Fifth Third Field.

With the win the Mud Hens took the lead in the International League West division. They are a half-game ahead of Louisville, which lost last night.

After spending most of the first half of the season with a losing record, the Hens (45-37) are now eight games above the .500 mark.

Lee Gardner was hurt, and we lost four games on the first road trip with walk-off home runs, Hens manager Larry Parrish said. We had some things that abnormally went against us at the beginning of the season, and now we ve played through it.

Perez, recently optioned from the Indians big-league club, Pittsburgh, allowed the Hens little. Perez tied a Fifth Third Field record with 13 strikeouts in his seven innings pitched.

But Ludwick broke through with a home run for the second straight night, this one landing out of the ballpark on Monroe Street. His blast scored Jack Hannahan.

He was throwing very well, Parrish said of Perez. Even Ludwick was baffled in his first two at-bats, and all of a sudden, bam. I don t know what he did.

Reliever Lance Davis (2-2) got the win. Toledo s starter, Corey Hamman, did not factor in the decision but had another strong outing for the Mud Hens since joining the rotation out of the bullpen.

In the fifth inning, Hamman allowed runners on first and second with nobody out, but he struck out two batters and got Rajai Davis to fly out to center.

You give them credit, too, but I think our guys are not producing in RBI situations the way we should be, Indianapolis manager Trent Jewett said.

In front of the crowd of 10,300, the scoring started in the third when Indians second baseman Craig Stansberry led off the inning with a home run to left field, his first home run since being called up from Double-A Altoona last week.

Contact Maureen Fulton at: mfulton@theblade.com or 419-724-6160.

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