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Published: Tuesday, 7/22/2008

Clevlen blasts 2 homers as Mud Hens top Wings

BY JEFF DIVERONICA
SPECIAL TO THE BLADE

ROCHESTER, N.Y. - What looked like a typical knock-the-ball-around Rochester rout early turned into a tight game late, but the Toledo Mud Hens held on for a 6-4 victory at Frontier Field last night.

"We sort of won in spite of ourselves tonight," said Hens manager Larry Parrish, whose club won its third straight despite making three errors. "We didn't play very good defense at times and then [shortstop Matt] Hollimon made a really nice play when they had a little action going in the eighth. That was big."

Hollimon, who threw high over first base on a grounder earlier in the game, ventured deep into the hole to get a force out and help quell a Red Wings rally after Jason Pridie's solo home run had trimmed Toledo's lead to 6-4. Reliever Clay Rapada then induced two groundouts to end the threat.

Closer Blaine Neal worked out of a two-on, one-out situation in the ninth inning, set up by Clete Thomas' dropped fly ball in center field, to earn his 24th save and make a winner out of starter Eddie Bonine (10-2), who just came off a five-game stint with the Detroit Tigers.

"He pitched real good," Parrish said. "It's bad for him but good for us that he's back here."

Right fielder Brent Clevlen again powered the offense, launching a pair of home runs in the first two innings as the Hens built a 5-0 lead.

He lined a 2-and-2 curveball over the left-field wall in the first and then sent a 1-and-0 fastball over the right-center field fence off Julio DePaula (1-5), a right-hander who allowed five runs on seven hits before leaving after just two innings.

Clevlen's towering, two-run shot was his third straight home run and fourth straight consecutive hit going back to Sunday's 8-4 win in Pawtucket, where he singled in the sixth inning and hit a solo homer in the ninth.

His red-hot run cooled in the seventh when he popped out to shallow center field. He had walked in the fourth and grounded out in ninth, going 2-for-4.

"Over the last four games I really didn't feel that great. I blooped a couple in, here and there," Clevlen admitted. "Really my last at-bat before we came here, I felt better. I just didn't have that good feeling. I was battling. I didn't have that right rhythm."

Clevlen wasn't the only Hen who feasted on foul pitching by the Wings, who rank 10th in the 14-team league with a 4.19 earned-run average.

First baseman Jeff Larish went 2-for-4 and made a couple of solid plays in the field, including digging out a Hollimon throw and snaring a low line drive over the bag by Howie Clark.

Thomas also went 2-for-4 and lead-off hitter Freddy Guzman continued his assault at the plate and on the bases. Coming off Sunday's IL-record four-steal effort, he swiped two more and went 2-for-5. He's 5-for-12 and hit in three straight games.

Rochester got a run back in the second inning, when Garrett Jones homered off Bonine to make it 5-1, and Hollimon's errant throw led to a pair of runs in the third.

Mud Hens outfielder Brent Clevlen was named the International League batter of the week, making him the second consecutive Toledo player to earn a weekly honor.

Hens pitcher Chris Lambert was recognized last week as the IL pitcher of the week.

Clevlen was singled out for his play from July 14-20, a period shortened by the All-Star break. The Hens' all-star outfielder batted .400 (6-for-15) with three homers, five RBIs and six runs scored in four games.

Last year, Clevlen was also named the IL batter of the week for his play following the All-Star break.

Syracuse pitcher Scott Richmond earned honors as the IL's top pitcher last week.

Also, the Tigers recalled pitcher Zach Miner. Taking his roster spot was infielder Jeff Larish.



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