INDIANAPOLIS - Last night the Toledo Mud Hens began a three-game series with the Indianapolis Indians a half-game out of first place in the International League West Division.
Facing the Pittsburgh Pirates' opening-day starter in recently demoted Oliver Perez, the Hens countered with right-hander Chad Durbin. Entering the game Durbin was second in the IL in strikeouts.
Toledo combined a stellar outing from Durbin with a pair of home runs from catcher Brian Peterson to retake the division lead with a 5-1 win.
Peterson doubled his season home run total in his first multi-homer game since his college days in 1998. Both came when Peterson was behind in the count with two strikes.
"The first one I don't really remember seeing," he said. "He had thrown a changeup for a strike and I figured he'd try to come inside. I just happened to get a good swing on it.
"The second one, he just threw a slider and it was hanging. I was just trying to protect, and I got good wood on it."
Perez relied heavily on 90-plus-mph fastballs while Durbin mixed off-speed pitches and worked both sides of the plate in striking out eight with no walks.
Perez went to a three-ball count only once all night, consistently getting ahead of Toledo hitters. But he gave up a toweringsecond-inning home run to Josh Phelps on an 0-2 pitch.
In the next inning Peterson hit a 1-2 fastball over the left-field fence to put Toledo ahead 2-0 and then duplicated the feat in the eighth for a two-run homer after Chris Maples had led off the inning with a single.
Meanwhile, Durbin was holding the Indians scoreless, never yielding more than one hit in any inning.
"That's what he does," said pitching coach Jeff Jones. "He's developed a slider that's really helped him."
Indianapolis finally got to Durbin for an unearned run in the eighth.
Rich Thompson reached on a throwing error by Jack Hannahan and scored on a two-out double by Carlos Maldonado.
In the seventh Durbin leaned on the Toledo defense to get him out of the inning unscathed.
Chris Duffy tripled with two out and Mike Edwards grounded to third. Hannahan's throw sailed high to first base, but Phelps leaped to make the catch and tagged the runner for the third out.
"With [regular third baseman Mike] Hessman out, Hannahan's not used to making that throw," said manager Larry Parrish. "But Phelps did a good job to get him."
Jason Karnuth came on to get the final out in the eighth. Lee Gardner pitched a perfect ninth in a non-save situation to close the game.