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Published: Thursday, 7/9/2009

Near misses plague Hens in loss to Bats

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Mud Hens manager Larry Parrish's already graying hair got a little grayer last night.

Parrish saw his team once again struggle to get hits with runners in scoring position - and they had plenty of chances. Toledo certainly had more chances than Louisville, yet the visiting Bats cashed in on their opportunities to earn a 4-2 victory at Fifth Third Field.

The Mud Hens had just one hit in 12 at-bats with runners in scoring position to score less than three runs for the 31st time in 84 games this season - a scoring drought that covers more than one-third of their games.

"We had a ton of chances," Parrish said. "Early in the ball game, we had a real chance against a guy who was scuffling [Bats starter Ben Jukich].

"They got out of that, then scored four times, and that put us in a hole we couldn't get out of."

Louisville's four-run rally in the third began innocently enough. With two outs and none on, Drew Stubbs beat out a hard grounder into the hole at shortstop that third baseman Mike Hessman gloved with a diving stab.

Brooks Brown had a rough time for the Mud Hens last night. Brooks Brown had a rough time for the Mud Hens last night.
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But after that came the deluge. Darnell McDonald tripled into the gap in right-center to score Stubbs, and McDonald came home on Chris Heisey's double.

A single by Kevin Barker scored Heisey, with Barker taking second on the throw to the plate, and a single by Adam Rosales plated Barker.

In that inning, the Bats were 3-for-4 when batting with a runner in scoring position - and all the hits came with two outs.

"We had McDonald down 0-2 [in the count], and we couldn't make a pitch," Parrish said. "He whacked it, and after that we couldn't stop it."

Brown fell to 2-7 this season despite having just one bad inning, and relievers Kris Regas and Matt Rusch held Louisville scoreless over the final four innings.

"Other than the one inning, Brown did a nice job," Parrish said. "Regas came in and did a very nice job, and Rusch did a nice job.

"We just had opportunities to match them, and we didn't put any runs on the board."

The Hens scored in the fifth as Max St-Pierre led off with a single, then moved to second one out later when Will Rhymes was safe on a error by Bats third baseman Wes Bankston.

Wilkin Ramirez then singled to left to score St-Pierre and push Rhymes to second.

Brent Clevlen and Brent Dlugach both grounded out, stranding the two runners on base.

Toledo stranded 13 baserunners. The Mud Hens left the bases loaded in the opening inning, and they left two on base in the second, fifth, sixth and ninth.

The Hens' final run came when Rhymes and Ramirez singled with one out, and Brent Clevlen walked to load the bases. A groundout by Brent Dlugach scored one run, but Ryan Roberson's groundout ended the game.

"In the first inning, you're thinking that you should have scored something there," Parrish said. "But we had chances after that. We had runners in scoring position in a lot of innings, and on and on it went."

The night also continued a trend of nonsupport when Brown is the starter. Since his promotion from Double-A Erie - where the SeaWolves scored 34 runs in his last five starts, all wins - Toledo has plated just nine runs total in his seven losses.

NOTES: LHP Dontrelle Willis will throw a simulated game here tomorrow. Willis, who is on Detroit's disabled list with an anxiety disorder, took part in batting practice with the Hens yesterday. Mike Rojas, the former Mud Hens manager (2007) who serves as Detroit's field coordinator for the minor leagues, was at yesterday's game and will remain with the Hens through Sunday. Ramirez extended his hit streak to seven games with his pair of hits.

Contact John Wagner at:

jwagner@theblade.com

or 419-724-6481.



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