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Published: Sunday, 8/9/2009

Gwinnett ends Hens' 8-game win streak

BY STEVE JUNGA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

The Mud Hens' season-best winning streak was snapped at eight games Saturday night as the Gwinnett Braves got things rolling early and held on for a 9-5 win at Fifth Third Field.

With some aggressive at bats and a little help from the Toledo defense, Gwinnett roughed up Hens starter Nate Robertson, who was making his second Triple-A appearance in his rehab effort to rejoin the Detroit Tigers.

The left-hander, who is coming off elbow surgery, was scheduled to throw 40 to 50 pitches. He reached that mark (51) with two outs in the second inning after walking Gregor Blanco to load the bases.

Upon Robertson's exit, reliever Matt Rusch promptly yielded back-to-back two-run singles to Chris Burke and Barbaro

Canizares as Gwinnett grabbed a 6-0 lead. During a 37-pitch first inning, Robertson surrendered a single and a pair of long doubles as the Braves went up 2-0.

The crucial at-bat in Robertson's lengthy opening inning was that of Canizares, who doubled in the two runs on the 12th pitch he saw after fouling off six two-strike offerings.

Only two of the five runs charged to Robertson (0-1) were earned. He allowed four hits and a walk and struck out three.

As a sellout crowd of 10,700 looked on, Toledo missed out on a chance to reach the .500 mark for the first time since May 4, when it was 12-12. The sellout was the 24th of the season here.

The Hens (56-58), who committed three errors in the game, did continue one streak in the second inning. That's when Jeff Frazier drove a liner off the left-field foul pole for a solo home run, his ninth round-tripper of the season.

Mike Hessman added a two-run shot for the Hens in the sixth off Braves starter James Parr. Toledo has hit at least one homer in 11 straight games and in 21 of its last 22.

The balanced Braves spread their 14 hits among eight of the nine hitters in the lineup. Gwinnett (64-50), which bashed Toledo pitching for four doubles and a home run, resides in second place in the International League's South Division and currently has a two-game lead in the league's wild-card chase.

During its winning streak, the Hens averaged seven runs per game while yielding four a contest.

Parr (1-1) limited them to just one run on four hits through five innings until Don Kelly delivered his third single of the game with one out in the sixth, and Hessman (16 homers) followed with his high blast into the centerfield bleachers.

The Braves added two runs in the seventh and another in the eighth, all off Hens reliever Brooks Brown. Toledo staged a brief rally against Braves reliever Juan Perez with two outs in the ninth when Frazier singled, Brent Dlugach reached on an error and Dane Sardinha doubled them home.

But after Will Rhymes walked, Scott Sizemore flied out to end the threat.

Contact Steve Junga at:

sjunga@theblade.com

or 419-724-6461.



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