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Published: Thursday, 5/15/2008

Hessman, Thomas homer, but pen fails


DURHAM, N.C. - With two long balls yesterday afternoon, Toledo remained the top home run hitting team in the International League by far with 67.

But thanks to the Mud Hens' bullpen it didn't matter.

Three Toledo relievers combined to allow Durham six runs apiece in the seventh and eighth innings as the Bulls roared from behind to hand the Mud Hens a 14-4 defeat.

The loss, coupled with a Louisville win, left Toledo just a game ahead of the Bats in the International League West.

Mud Hens starter Chris Lambert pitched six solid innings, allowing just two runs and striking out five. He exited the game with a 4-2 lead and in line for his sixth consecutive win.

But neither of the men who relieved him to start the seventh - Francis Beltran and Matt Rusch - recorded an out.

Durham second baseman Jeff Bannon led off the inning with one of his two home runs of the afternoon, and Beltran followed that up by giving up a single and issuing a walk. Rusch relieved him at that point but fared no better, walking Jon Weber before allowing Justin Ruggiano's two-run double down the left-field line.

Rusch faced just one more batter, giving up a run-scoring single to Dan Johnson before being replaced. He and Beltran ended with identical stat lines: 0 innings pitched, 2 hits, 1 walk, and three runs allowed.

"We've got some guys that are scuffling out there a little bit right now," Toledo manager Larry Parrish said.

"They're having trouble getting outs. The only problem is we've got too many of them out there that are in the same boat right now."

Anastacio Ramirez came on after Rusch to finish out the game. He closed out the seventh inning before allowing Durham to bat around again in the eighth. However, only one of the six runs the Bulls scored that inning was earned, thanks to shortstop Derek Wathan's two-out throwing error.

Toledo managed only three hits, though two of them were big ones.

Mike Hessman crushed his IL-leading 18th home run of the season in the first, and Clete Thomas hit a two-run shot in the fourth.

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