Some of the 6,379 fans at Fifth Third Field last night battle for a foul ball during the Hens win.
The Blade/Andy Morrison
At the start of last night's Mud Hens game, rehabbing Tiger pitchers Nate Robertson and Jeremy Bondermen were the featured attractions.
But by game's end, the spotlight was focused on their batterymate, catcher Max St-Pierre.
St-Pierre nearly hit for the cycle, collecting two singles, a double, and a home run that resulted in four RBIs to lead the Hens' to a 10-6 win over Buffalo.
"There are a lot of different guys in our lineup who can hurt you," Mud Hens manager Larry Parrish said after his team scored 10 runs for the second time in four games. "Maxie out of the nine-hole has really come up big in the last week or so.
"I think he just has confidence right now, and he's being aggressive."
St-Pierre now has nine hits in his last four games, and his recent hot streak has raised his season's batting average in Toledo from .171 entering July to its current level of .248.
"I've just been working with [hitting coach Leon 'Bull' Durham] in the cage," St-Pierre said. "I'm trying to keep the same approach: try to be relaxed, and let things happen nice and easy."
Toledo built early leads of 4-0 and 9-1 to complete the sweep of the four-game series with the Bisons, the Hens' first sweep of a four-game series since taking all four games in a 2007 set against Richmond.
The Mud Hens now have won six in a row after scoring 10 runs for the fourth time in the last 11 games at Fifth Third Field.
Toledo got things rolling in the first when Scott Sizemore singled with one out, then raced home on a double to straight-away center by Mike Hessman.
They added three runs in the second, a rally that started when Brent Clevlen and St-Pierre lined back-to-back doubles for one score. Will Rhymes singled home St-Pierre, and Hessman followed a two-out walk to Don Kelly with an RBI single.
The Hens then put some distance between themselves and the Bisons with five runs in the fifth. Toledo sent 10 batters to the plate that inning - the third time this month the Hens have batted around in one frame - and collected six hits, including run-scoring doubles by Jeff Larish and Jeff Frazier and a three-run homer by St-Pierre, his sixth of the season.
Robertson allowed four hits and one run in 22/3 innings, and his only trouble came in his final frame. After retiring eight of the first nine hitters he faced, the lefty served up a long home run to Andy Green, his third of the year. Argenis Reyes then singled, and one out later Nick Evans doubled Reyes to third.
Reliever Zach Simons came on and walked Mike Lamb on four pitches to load the bases, then fell behind Chip Ambres 3-0 before getting an inning-ending fly out.
"Robertson looked very good," St-Pierre said. "He kept a couple of change-ups high, but he spotted the ball well. Just a couple of mistakes up in the zone."
Bonderman came in and retired all three batters he faced on 13 pitches, seven of which were strikes.
"He worked his sinker in on righties, and he kept the ball down with good movement," St-Pierre said of Bonderman. "He had good sliders, and he looked sharp."
The Bisons mounted a comeback against reliever Scot Drucker, scoring four times in the sixth. On three straight pitches Evans, Lamb and Ambres all doubled for two runs, and one batter later Rene Rivera slammed a two-run homer onto Monroe Street, his fifth of the year.
"All of our offense allowed us to have that bad inning and still win," Parrish said.
Buffalo added an unearned run in the eighth. Javier Castillo reached second on an error by Hessman at third, moved up a base on a wild pitch, then scored on Rivera's groundout.
Toledo added one insurance run in the ninth when, with two outs, Frazier singled off Bisons reliever Adam Bostic and Brent Dlugach doubled him in. At game's end, every Hen had at least one hit while all but Kelly and Dlugach scored at least once.
NOTES: The Mud Hens will take today off before beginning a four-game series against Gwinnett tomorrow at Fifth Third Field. The three batters who hit home runs last night - St-Pierre, Rivera and Green - also hit homers in Monday's game.