COLUMBUS The final off day of the regular season couldn t be coming at a better time for the Mud Hens.
After winning six in a row and eight of nine, Toledo lost its third in a row on a five-game road trip last night.
The Mud Hens fell 9-3 before 5,536 to slip to 66-50.
They have been held to a combined seven runs including six earned during the current losing skid and had poor starting pitching the last two games.
Dennis Tankersley gave up eight earned runs in 42/3 yesterday to fall to 8-6.
The last two nights they pitched well against us, manager Mike Rojas said.
We didn t have great swings and they had great swings. The way we ve been swinging the last two nights, the day off is coming at the right time. We ve got a couple guys dragging.
Henry Mateo, who has been Toledo s most consistent hitter of late, opened the game with a walk, stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch but was left stranded after Andres Torres struck out, Timo Perez lined out and Jack Hannahan struck out.
It was a sign of things to come.
The Clippers (52-63) took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the frame when Brandon Watson singled, Bernie Castro walked, Abraham Nunez singled and Larry Broadway walked to drive in Watson. Michael Restovich bounced into a double play as Castro scored.
The Mud Hens failed to take advantage of two second-inning walks by Columbus starter Collin Balester (2-1) and got the leadoff hitter on in both the third and fourth innings but failed to knock in either runner.
Mateo reached on a one-out double in the fifth but Torres flew out and Perez grounded out.
In the bottom of the fifth, George Lombard homered to right-center to make it 3-0. Melvin Dorta then singled and Watson moved him to second with a sacrifice bunt.
Castro singled and Nunez and Broadway followed with RBI-singles. Restovich flied out to deep center, moving Nunez to third, and Kory Casto singled in Nunez to make it 7-0.
Brandon Harper doubled in Casto to knock out Tankersley. Reliever Jeremy Johnson walked Lombard but struck out Dorta.
The Mud Hens left two runners on in the sixth and stranded Dane Sardinha on first following a leadoff single in the seventh before finally breaking through in the eighth.
After Jack Hannahan walked and Shelton singled to begin the inning, Brent Clevlen flied out. Both runners moved up on a wild pitch by reliever Hector Carrasco and Erick Almonte hit a grounder into the hole at shortstop that Dorta threw past the first baseman and out of play. Hannahan and Shelton both scored on the play.
Then with David Espinosa batting, a throw back to Carrasco by Harper sailed into center field as Almonte scored from second for the final run.
The Mud Hens will return to action tomorrow at home against Norfolk with Anastacio Martinez (4-5, 4.14) on the mound, and Mateo believes they will be ready.
We had a couple bad games, but we ve been playing pretty good, Mateo said. We faced a couple of [pitchers] who stepped up but I m pretty happy with how we ve been playing overall.