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Published: Saturday, 7/29/2006

Hens end homestand in the pink

BY MAUREEN FULTON
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Ryan Ludwick trots past manager Larry Parrish at third base after hitting his first home run since the All-Star break. Phelps, Ludwick slug homers against Pawsox By MAUREEN FULTON Ryan Ludwick trots past manager Larry Parrish at third base after hitting his first home run since the All-Star break. Phelps, Ludwick slug homers against Pawsox By MAUREEN FULTON
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The Mud Hens might not have found their pink jerseys flattering, but they definitely found them appealing.

Toledo banged out 10 hits last night to finish its homestand on a good note, beating Pawtucket 8-4 at Fifth Third Field while dressed in jerseys benefiting breast cancer research.

"Hey, if we win, I don't care, we can wear them every night," Hens manager Larry Parrish said.

Josh Phelps went 4-for-4, a triple shy of hitting for the cycle, and Ryan Ludwick also homered. The Hens never trailed for more than a half-inning.

Hens starter Jordan Tata (8-4) at times got in trouble by falling behind Red Sox batters, giving up five walks. But when the Hens took the lead for good in the bottom of the fifth, he came back with a flawless inning.

"I haven't been great the past few weeks, but I feel like I've been giving us the chance to win," Tata said. "Especially a time like this when we've been struggling, I was glad to leave the game with the lead."

In the fourth, Tata gave up a double and then walked two batters to load the bases with no outs. He got Ron Calloway to ground out to first, which scored a run. Alejandro Machado dribbled a hit down the third base line to drive in another.

In front of a sellout crowd of 10,300, the Hens (55-52) came back to take the lead in the bottom of the fourth when catcher Mike Rabelo hit a bases-clearing double to left. It must have felt like the first hit the Hens had gotten in days.

Tata couldn't hold the lead, giving up a triple to David Murphy in the fifth. Alexis Gomez misjudged the fly ball in right field and it went over his head, scoring Willie Harris. Ron Calloway's sacrifice fly scored Murphy.

But the Hens answered in the fifth when Phelps hit a two-run home run to center off Red Sox starter Kason Gabbard (1-4).

"It's going to take something like that, a big inning to get everybody going in the right direction," Phelps said. "We scored two runs in the fifth, and turned around and put a zero up in the next inning."

Ludwick hit a solo home run in the sixth to pad the Hens' lead. It was his first home run since the All-Star Break, when he finished second in the Promedica Health System Home Run Derby with 18 home runs.

"It's been a while," Ludwick said. "I haven't been swinging the bat real well, but I'm hoping to snap out of it a little at a time."

The Hens added more in the seventh with the first four batters reaching base. Ryan Raburn doubled in Dustan Mohr, and Phelps' single scored Raburn.

With the win, Toledo finished with a 3-5 homestand. Because of Louisville and Indianapolis losses, the Hens gained a game in the International League West standings and are 4 1/2 games back of Indy, the leader.

"We put ourselves in a position that we need to win the rest of the year," Parrish said. "But the thing about our division is a lot of times, it's up to you."



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