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Published: Friday, 7/27/2007

Mud Hens tie score in 9th, then win it in 10th

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Curt Schilling made it look easy in his second rehab start for Pawtucket, holding the Mud Hens scoreless for five innings. Curt Schilling made it look easy in his second rehab start for Pawtucket, holding the Mud Hens scoreless for five innings.
JETTA FRASER/THE TOLEDO BLADE / THE BLADE/JETTA FRASER Enlarge | Buy This Photo

The Mud Hens came close - agonizingly close - to squandering their chances to win last night's game against Pawtucket.

But Toledo found a way to score a run in the bottom of the ninth to tie its game with the Red Sox, and Brent Clevlen's single with two outs in the bottom of the 10th scored Henry Mateo with the winning run in a 3-2 victory.

Curt Schilling pitched five scoreless innings in his second rehab start for Triple-A Pawtucket.

Schilling set down the first 14 batters he faced and gave up just two hits without a walk.

"It's nail-biting, but we pulled it out again," Mud Hens manager Mike Rojas said. "Our kids have been battling all year, and the guys we have in the lineup watched the guys who did it before and went up to Detroit."

The victory improved Toledo's record in one-run games at Fifth Third Field to 17-9 and made the Hens' 7-1 in extra innings at home this year.

"If we're down by two or three runs in the seventh or eighth inning in this park, we know we're going to come back," Hens starter Dennis Tankersley said. "Granted, we have a lot of different guys playing now, but we keep finding ways to win."

The winning rally began with Mateo's one-out single into the hole at shortstop. With two outs Jack Hannahan singled Mateo to third, and Chris Shelton walked before Clevlen lined a single into right of Pawtucket reliever Travis Hughes.

"All I was trying to do was put the ball in play," Clevlen said of his game-winning hit. "He got a slider up, I put a good swing on it, and it found a hole."

The game was scoreless until the fifth when Jeff Bailey led off with a long home run to left-center, Bailey's 13th home run of the season. But that was the only run allowed by Tankersley, who surrendered just seven hits in 72/3 innings.

"I knew that I had to bring my 'A' game or we were going to be in trouble," Tankersley said. "I knew I had to go get them from the start. The key for me was to not walk anybody; I knew if I walked guys, their hitters were good enough that I was going to be in trouble."

Meanwhile the Hens saw a number of scoring chances go unfulfilled, the first coming when Clevlen was thrown out at the plate trying to score in the fifth.

In the sixth the Hens scratched out a run but had another base-runner thrown out at the plate.

Erick Almonte led off with a walk off Pawtucket reliever Craig Breslow, then moved to second on a sacrifice by Dane Sardinha before Andres Torres lined the ball into the left-center gap.

Almonte scored and Torres reached third for a triple; the throw to third was wild, but Torres was thrown out at the plate trying to score.

The Hens loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh, but Bobby Scales made a diving stop of Almonte's hard grounder and threw Almonte out at first. In the eighth Toledo got two runners on but again didn't score.

Pawtucket scored a run in the top of the ninth on an RBI single by Scales, but Jeff Bailey was thrown out at the plate to keep the lead to a single run. And that proved critical when the Hens rallied in the ninth.

Shelton led off with a single off Hughes, then advanced on a sacrifice by Clevlen before coming home on a single by David Espinosa.

Almonte singled down the right-field line to move Espinosa to third, but a suicide squeeze backfired when newcomer Joel Roa struck out and Espinosa was tagged out by Kottaras the catcher.

NOTES: Last night's crowd of 10,300 was the Mud Hens' 23rd sellout this season and the 163rd in the six-year history of Fifth Third Field. It also pushed this year's attendance total to 407,685 in 51 games. Before the game the Mud Hens put C Andrew Graham on the disabled list with a sore right elbow. Roa, who has spent time with both Double-A Erie and Single-A Lakeland this season, was promoted to Toledo to take Graham's place. Fernando Rodney is expected to join the Mud Hens on a rehab assignment starting today. Rojas said Rodney will throw 15 pitches or one inning today, then 20 pitches or one inning Sunday and Tuesday.

Contact John Wagner at: jwagner@theblade.com or 419-724-6481.



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