One of Tigers manager Jim Leyland's pet phrases is: "There's no such thing as momentum - you're only as good as your next day's starter."
That maxim certainly proved true for the Mud Hens last night.
Toledo, which had lost six in a row and five straight at Fifth Third Field, snapped both streaks thanks to Chris Lambert. The right-hander fired a three-hitter to lead the Hens to an 8-1 victory over Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
"It didn't hurt that Brandon Inge hit a three-run homer, and Ramon Santiago had a good game," Mud Hens manager Larry Parrish said. "But all of the positives are like that because our starting pitcher had a great outing."
Lambert was in command throughout the contest, retiring 10 in a row at one point and allowing just one runner past first base. He walked one and struck out four to improve his season's record to 8-5, including a stellar 7-1 record at Fifth Third Field.
"I tried not to think about [the losing streak], but it was a big game for the team because we've been on kind of a skid," Lambert said. "A lot of guys came up with key hits, and they played good defense behind me. It was a team game."
The Yankees' only run was unearned. Alberto Gonzalez led off the seventh with a single, then moved to second when Hens right fielder Timo Perez threw wildly to first trying to pick Gonzalez off. Gonzales took third on a fly ball and scored on a groundout.
And Lambert, who threw 71 of his 104 pitches for strikes, pitched the first complete game of his five-year pro career.
"I didn't think about [the complete game] until the seventh," Lambert said. "I gave up the run in the seventh, but I felt good. And the eighth felt really good, so I wanted to finish it.
"After going that far, I really wanted to finish it."
Inge gave Lambert an early cushion in the third inning, following up back-to-back one-out singles by Santiago and Freddy Guzman with a long drive over the left-field fence for a home run. The homer was his first for the Hens since Aug. 3, 2003 - his last game in Toledo before last night.
"I'm not sitting on particular pitches any more," Inge said of his batting approach. "My
approach is to sit on the plate and find a pitch I can drive out of the ballpark, or at least hit hard."
The Mud Hens added three runs in the sixth thanks to a sacrifice fly by Max St-Pierre and a two-run, two-out single by Santiago, one of his four hits on the night.
St-Pierre gave Toledo a little more breathing room when, with two out and one on in the eighth, he curled a line drive just inside the foul pole in left for his second home run of the season.
The Hens finished the night with 12 hits, the team's highest total since a 14-hit game on June 26, and Parrish was especially pleased that the hits included a pair of home runs, a disputed triple by Jeff Larish - the Hens thought the ball cleared the fence in right, but the umpires ruled it hit high off the fence - and a pair of doubles.
"I thought we were more
aggressive early in the count," Parrish said. "I don't know why. [I just told them to] just keep doing it."
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