LOUISVILLE - Behind a steel-stomached performance from Eddie Bonine and some timely hitting, the Mud Hens won their seventh straight game last night.
Toledo, which had won its previous six games by scoring 6.5 runs per game, rode the right arm of Bonine and a pair of runs in the fifth and sixth innings to a 4-3 victory over the Louisville Bats on an unseasonably chilly night (54 degrees at the first pitch) at Louisville Slugger Field before an announced crowd of 6,978 - which was less than 200 by the end of the game.
"We've been scoring a lot of runs, but tonight the starting pitcher for them had a palm ball that kind of had us baffled there for a while," Toledo manager Larry Parrish said. "But we had a few big hits and had them all in a couple of innings there, and that was it."
The Mud Hens increased their lead to two and a half games over Louisville in the International League West Division. The Bats, who lost a 17-inning game to Columbus on Monday that lasted four hours and 58 minutes, had won the previous two meetings with Toledo this season.
Bonine remained perfect, earning his IL-best fifth win of the season, by giving up eight hits and three runs while striking out eight over six innings.
"He was sick today, we didn't know if he was going to be able to go," Parrish said of Bonine. "He was throwing up, but after he did he seemed like he was feeling better and he wanted to give it a try."
Bonine showed no ill effects on the mound. He struck out the side twice - in the first and sixth innings - as he won the matchup of unbeaten pitchers.
"He's doing a whale of a job for us," Parrish said. "He's locating his fastball and he had a good breaking ball tonight, especially early."
Louisville's Justin Lehr entered the game with a 3-0 record and a 1.33 earned-run average, but the Mud Hens collected eight hits and four runs against him over 52/3 innings.
Michael Hollimon, Brent Clevlen and Dane Sardinha had two hits apiece to lead Toledo's 10-hit attack, while Derek Wathan delivered his first home run.
Louisville scored in the third when Luis Bolivar led off with a single, then leadoff hitter Andy Green followed with a hit up the middle that ricocheted off Wathan at short to move Bolivar to third. Two batters later Jay Bruce beat out a double-play try at first to allow Bolivar to score.
The Mud Hens tied the score at 1 on Wathan's solo home run that almost wasn't in the fifth.
Wathan sent the ball deep to right field, and in the hard-to-see Louisville twilight the ball disappeared for a moment, then bounced back into play. Wether it had bounced off the railing on the fence or off of the something over the fence in the picnic area wasn't easily distinguishable.
Louisville right fielder Chris Dickerson ran the ball down and threw it back into the infield. It was initially ruled a double. Wathan waited at second while Parrish went over to discuss the call with first base umpire Brian Kennedy. After the conversation Kennedy conferred with the other umpires before ruling the hit a home run.
"I went over to ask him because it's hard to tell out there," Parrish said. "The only thing I reacted to was the way the outfielder played it. He didn't jump on it like it had hit off the wall. [Kennedy] said, 'I was trying to judge it off the people [behind the fence], but it sounded like it hit the railing.' And I said, 'It wouldn't have sounded like that if it had hit the railing.'
"But I wouldn't have bet the house either way."
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