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Published: 6/3/2007

Mud Hens go cold in Buffalo in setback

BY DAN HICKLING
SPECIAL TO THE BLADE

BUFFALO - The Mud Hens owned the most prolific offense in the International League over the last two weeks.

But last night, the Hens cooled off with a 3-2 setback at the hands of the Buffalo Bisons, before 9,422 at Dunn Tire Park.

Getting runners on was not the problem for Toledo, which outhit the Herd 10-7 and hits in every inning but one. But scoring was.

"You're not going to go out and score eight or nine runs every night," said Toledo first baseman Chris Shelton, who went 2-for-4.

"But with the lineup we have, we feel like we can. Tonight wasn't our night."

The Hens had won four straight (averaging more than nine runs a game) and 13 out of their last 16. So an offensive cool down was bound to happen.

"We had our opportunities," said Toledo interim manager Mike Rojas. "But we couldn't get three hits together, or put something together back to back. It was a good ball game. We just ended up on the losing side."

The Hens grabbed an early 1-0 lead, after Kevin Hooper stroked a single to right off Bison starter Aaron Laffey (1-3) to lead off the game.

Hooper moved to second on David Espinosa's sacrifice bunt, then scored from there on a throwing error by Buffalo shortstop Luis Rivas.

Buffalo came back with two runs in the bottom of the fourth on a Jason Cooper home run off Hens' lefty Corey Hamman.

Hamman (0-4), who departed in the fifth after giving up a two-out single to Ben Francisco, was charged with another run when Rivas laced an RBI single off reliever Ramon Colon.

The Hens made matters interesting in the top of the ninth, when Ryan Raburn singled to lead off, then was doubled in by Shelton.

But that was as close as they could get.

"You've got to string three or four hits together to do some damage," said Shelton. "But we just didn't get the hits with guys in scoring position. We'd been doing such a good job, it was bound to slow down."

NOTES: Until recent days, when Mike Hessman approached (then on Friday passed) the Mud Hens career home run record, little was known about the man who held the mark for 107 years, Erve Beck. But as it turns out, Beck qualifies as a bona fide Toledo baseball legend. For starters, Beck was born in the Glass City on July 19, 1878, and died there at age 38 in 1916. He had a brief big league career as an infielder, joining the Cleveland Blues in 1901 in the newly formed American League. On April 24 of that year, he nailed the first extra-base hit (a double) in AL history, then hit the new loop's first home run the next day. He hit six homers that year in the "Dead Ball Era", and three more the next (with Cincinnati and Detroit), his last in the majors . The teams will resume their four-game set this afternoon at 1:05, when RHP Virgil Vasquez (6-2, 4.45) will get the start against Buffalo RHP Jeff Harris (2-3, 6.42).



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