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Published: Thursday, 7/17/2008

IL all-stars blow lead in ninth

Hens outfielder Brent Clevlen pops out with the bases loaded in the first inning of last night s Triple-A All-Star game.
Hens outfielder Brent Clevlen pops out with the bases loaded in the first inning of last night s Triple-A All-Star game.
ED REINKE / AP Enlarge

LOUISVILLE A.J. Ellis hit a two-run double to cap a ninth-inning rally by the Pacific Coast League and it held off the International League 6-5 in the Triple-A All-Star game last night.

For most of the night the PCL hitters hardly seemed inspired playing a few blocks away from the home of the Louisville Slugger. The PCL managed three hits and appeared off balance through eight innings.

The IL wasn t much better as the teams combined for an All-Star record 23 strikeouts.

Still, the IL seemed to have things in control after plating two runs in the bottom of the seventh behind Andrew McCutchen s RBI infield single and a fielder s choice RBI by the Mud Hens Mike Hessman.

The IL sent the Hens Blaine Neal to close it out. Neal, one of six players in the game who will play for Team USA in the Summer Olympics next month, has converted 23 of 25 save opportunities this year. But he didn t come close against the PCL s top hitters.

Nick Stavinoha led off with a hit, then scored three batters later on a single by Jamie D Antona. A single by Matt Brown tied the game, and Matt Saccomanno gave the PCL the lead on a single up the middle.

By the time Ellis, a catcher for the Las Vegas 51s playing an hour from his hometown of Lexington, Ky., hit his double to center, it appeared to be more than enough for the PCL.

Then the IL rallied for three in the bottom of the ninth, including a two-run homer by Chris Carter. But Luis Pena, who earned the win, got Jonathan Van Every to fly out to right to end it.

Neal gave up six runs, five earned, four hits, a walk and a strikeout while recording just one out and taking the loss. The appearance marked the first time all year Neal gave up more than two hits in a game all season.

McCutchen, named the IL player of the game, finished with two hits and Joe Thurston added three for the IL.

Brown, the PCL player of the game, had two hits and an RBI.

Hens outfielder Brent Clevlen was 1 for 4 while Hessman went 0 for 5 with an RBI.

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