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Published: Sunday, 8/26/2007

Mud Hens lose; magic number still 1

BY PETE CAVA
SPECIAL TO THE BLADE

INDIANAPOLIS - The Indianapolis Indians postponed Toledo's division-clinching celebration for at least one more day, defeating the visiting Mud Hens 7-2 last night before a crowd of 11,112.

Designated hitter Jose Hernandez accounted for six of the Indians' runs with a pair of homers, one of them a grand slam.

A win would have given the Hens - winners of the last two Governors' Cup titles - a third consecutive International League West title.

"It was Hernandez's night," said Toledo manager Mike Rojas. "He did a tremendous job at the plate and pushed in all those runs. You've got to tip your hat to him. We'll just come out again tomorrow and start all over again."

The loss snapped a four-game Hens win streak, all at the expense of the Indians. "You can't win every game," Rojas added. "Tomorrow's the last time we see them. I like our chances."

Desperately trying to keep their wild-card hopes alive, the Indians (67-66) went up 1-0 in the top of the first. Nyjer Morgan led off with a single to short and took second on Omar Infante's wild throw. Morgan moved to third on an infield out and rode home when Michael Ryan's sacrifice fly took Andres Torres to the center field wall.

Toledo (77-56) squandered a scoring opportunity in the third when David Espinosa drew a one-one walk and took third one out later on a single by Torres. Indians starter Victor Zambrano ended the threat by retiring Henry Mateo on a roller to first.

Indianapolis struck again in the fourth after Hens starter Yorman Bazardo (10-6) retired the first two batters. Steven Pearce lashed a single to left and when Hernandez slammed a fastball over the wall in right, the Indians led 3-0.

Hernandez's next at-bat came in the sixth. Morgan led off the frame with a double and one out later, Michael Ryan drew an intentional walk. Bazardo drilled Pearce to fill the bases, and Hernandez followed with a blast to right-center on an 0-1 count to make it 7-0.

Zambrano (4-2), a right-hander coming back this season from Tommy John surgery in 2006, pitched two-hit ball through the first seven frames. The 32-year-old Venezuelan, who opened this season with Syracuse, was making his fourth start for Indianapolis. The win was his first decision as an Indian.

Jason Perry put the Hens on the scoreboard in the eighth with a home run, his first since coming over from the Oakland Athletics organization on Aug. 15. Perry also had 18 homers for Sacramento in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League and five more for Midland of the Double-A Texas League.

Espinosa followed Perry's blast with a single, and Zambrano gave way to right-hander Bret Prinz. Prinz walked the first man he faced, Dane Sardinha, before retiring the next two batters.

Josh Sharpless replaced Prinz in the ninth. The Hens made it 7-2 when Infante opened with a double, took third on a wild pitch and rode home on Timo Perez's infield out.

Right-hander Virgil Vasquez (11-5, 3.59) will try to clinch the division for Toledo in today's 2 o'clock contest at Indianapolis. He'll face righty Bryan Bullington (11-7), the No. 1 pick in the 2002 draft.



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