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Published: Wednesday, 7/5/2006

Mud Hens provide fireworks, top Louisville

BY JOSH COOK
SPECIAL TO THE BLADE

LOUISVILLE - Downtown Louisville's Fourth of July fireworks display began with two outs in the top of the ninth of last night's Toledo Mud Hens-Louisville Bats game.

But the Mud Hens had already provided plenty of offensive explosions of their own to that point, hitting four home runs on their way to a 10-7 win over the Bats at Louisville Slugger Field, where 10,598 got a show both on the field and in the air.

"There were a lot of fireworks tonight," Toledo manager Larry Parrish said.

The victory, Toledo's eighth in 10 games, kept the Mud Hens (47-38) alone atop the International League West standings, one game ahead of second-place Indianapolis, which beat Columbus 5-3 earlier in the day. Louisville (44-40) dropped 2 1/2 games behind Toledo with the loss.

Toledo also took over the IL home run lead. The Mud Hens entered the game second in the league in home runs with 78, three behind Buffalo, but the Bisons went homerless in a 4-1 loss to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre yesterday. Ryan Ludwick hit two home runs for Toledo, and Ryan Raburn and David Espinosa provided the others.

"We can hit some home runs, but we can strike out too," said Parrish, whose team struck out nine times against four Louisville pitchers. "But we hit some big ones late in the game."

Espinosa homered in the eighth and Ludwick hit his second of game, and his 16th of the season, in the ninth as the Mud Hens held off the Bats, who had rallied from an early 6-0 deficit to tie the game.

"I know one thing, we didn't make any pitches tonight," Parrish said. "I've never seen so many waist-high pitches. Colby [Lewis] went out there and couldn't get the ball down. If they're hitting good pitches you tip your hat, but they weren't hitting good pitches off him tonight. I don't know if that mound is different than ours, or what."

But familiarity may have served Lance Davis well. The left-hander, who pitched for the Bats from 2000-03, tossed 12/3 innings of perfect relief to improve to 3-2.

"Lance did a good job for us," Parrish said. "We didn't have anything but left-handers to throw at them, so for him to come in and give us an inning and two-thirds and hold them at bay, that was a big outing."

Lee Gardner took over for Davis in the ninth and earned his IL-leading 18th save.

The start of the game was delayed 30 minutes by rain. Then it didn't take long before the floodgates opened on the field. The Mud Hens sandwiched single runs in the second and fourth innings around a four-run third to quickly build a 6-0 lead.

Toledo scored its first run thanks to a pair of recent additions. Dustan Mohr, who was signed as a free agent June 28, singled with two outs, then scored on recent call-up Chris Maples' double down the leftfield line. It was the first Triple-A at-bat for Maples, who went 3-for-4.

Raburn hit his 16th home run of the season, a three-run shot, in the third and Ludwick added a solo shot, his 15th.

In the fourth Kevin Hooper led off with a single, took second on an error, reached third on a groundout, then scored on a wild pitch.

The Bats scored two runs in the fourth and three in the fifth to chase Lewis, who allowed eight hits and walked one while striking out five.



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