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Published: Saturday, 8/4/2007

Vasquez not quite good enough

BY KEITH CANNON
SPECIAL TO THE BLADE

FORT MILL, S.C. Toledo Mud Hens starting pitcher Virgil Vasquez was sharp last night, but Heath Phillips, his counterpart on the Charlotte Knights, was sharper.

As a result, the Knights took advantage of the first opening in a scoreless game and went on to a 4-1 victory in front of 6,404 fans at Knights Stadium, breaking a six-game winning streak for the Mud Hens (66-48).

They got the big hit and we didn t, Toledo manager Mike Rojas said. That s the breaks of the game.

Vasquez (10-4) scattered six hits over seven innings, walking one and striking out seven. But the Mud Hens could only muster four hits, and scored their only run on Dane Sardinha s one-out solo home run to left in the eighth.

Vasquez battled Phillips to a deadlock over the first six innings. But the Charlotte right-hander, who was the International League pitcher of the year in 2006, improved his record to 10-7 and beat the Mud Hens for the third time this season. (He limited the Mud Hens to one run in seven innings on May 19 and two runs in seven innings on July 14, both at Fifth Third Field.)

He pitched 71/3 innings of two-hit shutout ball, striking out six.

He [Phillips] did a good job, and kept us off balance with his curve ball, Rojas said. But [Vasquez] matched him pitch for pitch.

Through those first six innings, the Mud Hens offense consisted of a one-out second-inning single by Jack Hannahan, who was picked off first base by Phillips.

Timo Perez singled with two outs in the fourth.

The Knights broke the deadlock with a pair of runs in the seventh. After one out, Ernie Young and Kenny Kelly stroked back-to-back singles. Young scored on a double to left center by Adam Ricks. After Vasquez hit Ryan Smith with a pitch to load the bases, Jason Bourgeois drove in another run with a fielder s choice.

Sardinha s eighth homer of the season, off Charlotte relief pitcher David Aardsma, made it a 2-1 game in the eighth. But Ricks, called up by the Knights from Class A Winston-Salem on Wednesday, drove in two runs in the eighth with a bases-loaded single to left, his second straight three RBI game.

NOTES: Perez s fourth-inning single extended his hitting streak to eight games. ... The Mud Hens will begin a two-game series at Columbus at 7 tonight. Scheduled starting pitchers are right-hander Ron Chiavacci (9-5, 3.67) for the Mud Hens and left-hander Chris Michalak (3-5, 3.08) for the Clippers.



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