It's a rare occasion when the Mud Hens take a lead into the ninth inning at home and lose.
So technically, Hens fans got to see something special last night.
The Indianapolis Indians scored six runs on Toledo relievers in the top of the ninth, defeating the Hens 7-6. It was just the third time ever at Fifth Third Field the Hens have lost a game with a ninth-inning lead, and the first time at home this season.
The deciding runs belonged to closer Lee Gardner (2-4), who gave up four after entering the game with one out. Hector Mercado started the inning, but was pulled after walking two batters. Three of the six runners who scored got on base via a walk.
"We gave them the game," Hens manager Larry Parrish said. "Hits, you can take. Walks, you can't."
All of the Indians' runs came with two outs. Cleanup hitter Chris Richard's two-RBI single put Indianapolis ahead.
When Gardner entered the game with the two inherited runners, the score was 5-1 Hens. He recorded a strikeout and then walked Carlos Maldonado to load the bases. The first Indy run came when Rajai Davis hit a dribbling infield hit to score Adam Boeve.
The next batter, Chris Duffy, worked a full count against Gardner, fouling off several pitches. He finally connected with a single up the middle that scored two more runs.
Raul Gonzalez sneaked a single past second baseman Kevin Hooper to drive in another run, and Gardner was pulled for Lance Davis. Davis gave up Richard's single, which landed in the same spot as Gonzalez's and put the Indians up by two runs.
"It's contagious," Hens catcher Max St-Pierre said. "They were having good at-bats - they didn't want to give up."
In the bottom half of the ninth the Hens began a rally.
Don Kelly hit a leadoff double and St-Pierre drove him in with a single in the gap in left-center field. Ryan Raburn's single put runners at the corners with two outs, but Josh Phelps popped out foul to end the game.
"We didn't give up, but it should have been won a long time ago," St-Pierre said.
The Indians (44-37) didn't start scoring until the eighth, when Gonzalez hit a sacrifice fly to score Davis after Davis' leadoff single off Hens reliever Bobby Seay.
The loss puts the Mud Hens (45-38) and the Indians into a tie for the International League West Division lead.
Hens starter Chad Durbin's gem was spoiled. Durbin gave up no runs and two hits over seven innings, striking out nine and walking none.
"He threw the ball super," Parrish said. "He threw a lot of pitches the first couple innings, got his pitch count up, but after that he was very good."
The Hens scored three unearned runs in the second and added another run in the third inning when Jason Roach, the Indians' starting pitcher, walked Dustan Mohr with the bases loaded and two outs.
Ryan Raburn hit his 15th home run of the year in the fifth inning, a solo shot.
Contact Maureen Fulton at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6160.