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Published: Thursday, 8/12/2010

Dirks' first HR not enough for Hens in loss

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Mud Hens outfielder Andy Dirks seems to know how to take advantage of an opportunity.

Promoted from Double-A Erie on Aug. 3 when the Tigers called up Jeff Frazier, Dirks continued his fine play in a 4-3 loss to Louisville at Fifth Third Field Wednesday night.

Dirks had two hits in four at-bats, including his first home run, and added a sacrifice fly. Defensively he made a pair of fine-running catches, and he also nearly threw out a runner at home plate from left field on a sacrifice fly in the Bats' two-run fifth inning.

Not a bad performance for a 24-year-old who has never played above Double-A before this month.

"If things had gone according to the plan before the season started, he wouldn't be here right now," Parrish said of Dirks. "He might have had a chance to be here next year, though. So he's going through a bit of a learning curve now, and next year he should be better for it."

Dirks hit .278 with 11 homers and 46 RBIs along with 19 stolen bases in 98 games with the SeaWolves before getting the call-up to Toledo.

"It's good to get moved up, because you want to get promoted," Dirks said. "But I just approach it like any other game."

And that approach has worked well for Dirks, who has a .424 batting average in his first eight games with the Hens.

"Guys are more experienced up here," he said when asked about the differences in the two levels. "But I just keep playing baseball.

"And this is a good group of guys that don't judge you when you come up, and that's big if you want to come up and produce right away."

Parrish said he has liked what he has seen from the young outfielder.

"He has looked pretty good so far," Parrish said. "He looks good in the outfield and has made some plays out there. He shows a lot of energy, too."

Parrish wasn't as happy with what he saw from his team, which allowed a run in the eighth on the way to its fourth consecutive loss.

Reliever Casey Fien gave up a leadoff double to Todd Frazier, and with two outs Danny Dorn lined an RBI double down the right-field line.

Louisville opened the game by scoring an unearned run in the first on a RBI single by Frazier, the younger brother of the Tigers' Jeff Frazier, but Toledo tied the game in the bottom of the first on a

sacrifice fly by Dirks.

In the third Dirks pounded a 3-1 pitch by Bats starter Micah Owings into the Roost down the right-field line for his first homer for the Hens.

Louisville scored twice in the fifth thanks to some gifts by the Hens. The Bats benefited from a hit on what was supposed to be a sacrifice bunt and then scored a run when Dirks' throw to the plate failed to get the inning-ending out because catcher Max St-Pierre didn't block the plate effectively.

Toledo managed to tie the game in the sixth when Brent Dlugach walked, moved to second on a single by Justin Henry, took third on sacrifice by St-Pierre and scored on Scott Sizemore's groundout.

That merely set the stage for the Bats' comeback, which

extended their current win streak to seven straight games and gave them victories in 18 of their last 19 contests.

NOTES: Hens OF Casper Wells extended his hit streak to 12 straight games by singling to lead off the seventh. … LHP Aroldis Chapman earned his second save in as many days. He did not allow a hit in 12/3 innings but walked a pair of batters. Only 25 of his 43 pitchers were strikes, but six were at least 100 miles per hour and 18 more were clocked at 98 or 99. … The Tigers announced that SS Danny Worth would begin a rehab assignment with the Hens Thursday. Worth went on the disabled list Aug. 4 with a bruised left heel.

Contact John Wagner at:

jwagner@theblade.com

or 419-724-6481.



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