MOOSIC, Pa. - It began with a bang, but the Toledo Mud Hens' lone trip of the year to Pennsylvania Coal Country ended with a whimper, in the form of yesterday's listless, 4-1 beating by the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons before 7,783 at Lackawanna County Stadium.
After winning the first game of this set, 6-5 on Thursday, Toledo dropped the last three to the Barons by a combined 27-5 count, and lost their IL West Division lead, which is now in the hands of Indianapolis.
"We did not have a real good series here," said Hens skipper Larry Parrish, putting it mildly. "We're a fly ball, strike out club. We're not a ping it on the ground and run [team]. We don't match well on the [Astroturf]."
It was a rough day all around for the Hens, who stranded 11 runners and committed three errors - all of them by first baseman Josh Phelps.
And the Hens wasted a fine effort by starter Corey Hamman (1-3), who kept them in the game before being ejected in the seventh following a disputed play at first base.
"He pitched well," Parrish said. "If we'd [only] made some plays, [because] he pitched a gem."
Hamman allowed the Barons just one run on two hits for the first five innings.
The only glitch came in the third, after slow-footed Barons catcher Dusty Wathan legged out a leadoff double. He scored from second on Juan Sosa's sacrfice bunt, when Phelps' throw got away from Chris Maples, who was covering first on the play.
Meanwhile, the Hens couldn't get to Scranton starter Eude Brito, even though they had runners on base in each of the first five innings.
Things changed in the top of the sixth, after Brito gave way to reliever Matt White (5-8). Phelps atoned for his earlier error by slamming White's second pitch over the fence in left center, knotting the score at 1.
But in the bottom of the sixth, the Barons grabbed the lead again, after Joe Thurston beat out a leadoff single, and was doubled in by Danny Sandoval.
Things came apart in the seventh when Scranton scored twice more, one of them coming on botched coverage on a Michael Bourn sacrfice bunt, a play on which Phelps was charged with two more errors.
"Phelpsie had a bad day today," Parrish. said "A real bad day."
Then Thurston beat out another bunt, eluding a tag by Hamman who was covering. Hamman protested the call, spiked the ball on the turf and was ejected by umpire Tyler Bolick.
Toledo loaded the bases in the eighth with one away off reliever Clay Condrey, but came away empty-handed.
"We're looking forward to getting out of here," Parrish said