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Published: Saturday, 8/23/2008

Hens 'steal' win from Tides

BY JIM HODGES
SPECIAL TO THE BLADE

NORFOLK, Va. - A crime spree broke out here over the last four days, with Freddy Guzman as Norfolk enemy No. 1.

Guzman stole three bases and scored three runs last night, leading the Mud Hens to a 6-5 win over the Tides in a game that seemed pretty typical for him lately.

He had six steals and scored five runs in a series the Hens won, three games to one.

"That's my game," Guzman said. "If I'm going to get the opportunity, I'm going to run, and I'm going to score runs."

His record bears him out. Guzman leads the International League with 52 stolen bases, which again is fairly typical. He twice led the Pacific Coast League in steals for other organizations.

"He has that great first step," said manager Larry Parrish, who was just happy to see the Hens rap out 11 hits in an August in which they have been scarce.

Letting his charges run wild on the bases is a way to combat Harbor Park's generous dimensions.

"This ballpark makes you play that way," added Parrish of giving Guzman the green light on just about any opportunity. And he had plenty of help in a series in which the Hens stole 15 bases.

The Hens - who were tied with Pawtucket for the IL lead in home runs when the series began - did not hit one over the four games.

That didn't keep their starting pitcher Virgil Vasquez from surrendering his 26th of the season, tops in the IL. The shot was hit by Luis Terrero to lead off the fifth inning.

His homer closed the Hens' advantage to 5-3. They had earned five runs over the first four innings against lefthander Garrett Olson gave up nine hits and walked three Hens, and he needed 93 pitches to get through his five innings, 32 in the first alone.

Vasquez pitched five innings to earn his third win in a row. He was supplanted by relievers Matt Rusch and Clay Rapada, who set up Francisco Cruceta's third save in four nights.

But it didn't come with comfort.

"He does that some times," said Parrish, obviously relieved.

Cruceta walked Terrero and Luis Hernandez to lead off the ninth inning, and Tike Redmon's single drove home Terrero. A sacrifice by Eider Torres put runners on second and third with one out."

"But he has that out pitch," said Parrish. "You saw it on those last two hitters."

The "out pitch" is a split-finger fastball that struck out Jeff Fiorentino and Freddie Bynum to end the ball game and send the Hens back to Toledo on a high note.



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