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Published: Saturday, 6/2/2007

Mud Hens ignite, shellack Bisons

BY DAN HICKLING
SPECIAL TO THE BLADE

BUFFALO - There seems to be no end to the roll the Toledo Mud Hens are on.

There was no shortage of story lines to come out of their latest win, a 15-3 pounding of the Buffalo Bisons, before 9,129 at Dunn Tire Park, last night.

The most enduring of them would likely be the ninth inning home run clobbered by Mike Hessman, which had nothing to do with the final outcome, but did etch the lanky third baseman's name in the Mud Hens record book.

Hit off Bison reliever Edward Mujica, it was Hessman's 68th as a Mud Hen, breaking a club record that had stood for 107 years and had been held by Erve Beck.

"It's exciting," said Hessman, who now has 239 career minor league round trippers, eight of them, here. "It's good to get it over with. It's a pretty good yard to hit in."

That was just one of 19 hits by the Hens, who made life miserable for Bison pitching, beginning with rehabbing Cleveland right-hander Jake Westbrook.

Every Hen starter got a base hit, including David Espinosa and Timo Perez, who both went 4-for-6.

That proved to be plenty of support for Toledo righthander Yorman Bazardo, who tossed a sparkling, seven hit complete game, his first since 2004 and the eighth of his professional career.

"Bazardo going all nine innings against a good hitting ball club," said Toledo interim manager Mike Rojas. "That was a tremendous job by him. We got good quality at-bats with guys in scoring position. It was a good win all the way around."

The plan had been for Westbrook to throw the first three innings, but the Hens saw to it that he was gone before the second stanza was done.

Run scoring singles by Ryan Raburn and Chris Shelton gave the Hens a 2-0 lead, but Buffalo got two runs in the bottom of the first off Bazardo (4-3).

Toledo promptly regained the lead, 5-2, in the second by strafing Westbrook for three more runs, two of which scored on throwing errors. Westbrook greased his own skids by committing one of the miscues.

Bazardo made the runs stand by staying ahead and staying out of trouble, ensuring the Hens 13th win in their last 16 starts.

"He gathered himself," said Rojas, "and finished strong. He didn't labor toward the end. He wanted to come back in the ninth inning and finish it off. And he got it."

NOTES: If there was anything positive for Westbrook to hang his cap on, it was that he felt no pain from the strained abdominal muscle that he pulled back on May 2, during a start against Toronto. The teams will meet tonight at 7:05 tonight with LHP Corey Hamman (0-3, 3.34) set to start against Bison LHP Arron Laffey (0-3, 8.64). ... Detroit backup catcher Vance Wilson will begin a rehab assignment with Toledo when the Mud Hens return home Tuesday. Wilson, who suffered an elbow injury, is slated to serve as the Mud Hens' DH on Tuesday, then move behind the plate on Friday.



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