LOUISVILLE - A little playful postgame banter pretty much summed up Toledo's 6-1 win over Louisville last night.
"It's nice when somebody retires 16 in a row," right fielder Ryan Ludwick joked in the direction of Toledo starting pitcher Chad Durbin.
"It helps when guys hit it out in the river," Durbin responded.
Led by Durbin's right arm and a crushing early home run by Ludwick, the Mud Hens (57-52) swept a two-game series from the Bats (57-51) at Slugger Field. In doing so they also pulled within a half-game of Louisville in the International League West standings and within 2 1/2 games of first-place Indianapolis. Toledo begins a three-game series at Indy tonight.
"We've been playing well at home (33-21) and haven't been playing that well on the road (now 24-31), but to get two on the road, when we are trying to pick up some ground on teams ahead of us, is good," Durbin said.
Last night, he gave up just three hits and one run while striking out four in eight innings, sitting down 16 Bats batters in a row at one point, to improve to 9-5 on the season.
"He's pitched his butt off for us this year," Toledo manager Larry Parrish said of Durbin, who lowered his earned-run average to 2.88 this season. "Every time he has delivered."
Durbin, who pitched nine innings but got a no-decision July 25 against Pawtucket in his last outing, threw 90 pitches on the evening when the game-time temperature was 90 degrees.
"I threw 120-plus pitches last time out and I was getting pretty tired," said Durbin, who gave way to Lee Gardner in the ninth. "I don't like to admit when I'm getting tired, and this is the first time I've probably said it."
Meanwhile, Ludwick's 435-foot solo home run off Steve Kelly (2-5) in the second inning - his second in as many days - gave Durbin an early lead that the Mud Hens wouldn't let him relinquish. It was the 19th home run of the season for Ludwick, who went 2-for-3 with two runs scored against the Bats.
"Ludwick was the key guy in our lineup most of the year," Parrish said. "He'd gone through a tough time, battling his confidence, but he seems to have broken out of it the last couple games and he's got some big hits for us. He makes our offense a lot better."
The Mud Hens scored single runs in the fifth and sixth innings - on an RBI single from Alexis Gomez and an RBI double from Jack Hannahan - before getting a three-run home run from Josh Phelps in the top of the ninth to seal the deal.
"It doesn't stop, we've got a month to go," Parrish said.