The Mud Hens broke a string of four straight one-run losses Thursday night, but it was certainly not the way they had hoped to snap that skid.
This time there wasn't even a hint of late-game drama.
That's because the visiting Louisville Bats banged out 17 hits against five Toledo pitchers in completing a four-game sweep with a 10-4 victory over the slumping Hens before a crowd of 8,968 at Fifth Third Field.
Defiance native and Ayersville High School graduate Chad Reineke (9-7) got the victory for Louisville, allowing three runs on six hits and striking out five over five innings in his 100-pitch outing.
"Tonight was crazy," Reineke said. "We were here earlier in the year and there was some family and friends. But there were a lot of people from my hometown here tonight. It was a little different.
"I don't think I've ever played in front of that many people who know me. It was exciting, but once I got on the mound I had to try and block it out and
attack the hitters."
Toledo has lost five straight games and seven of eight as the International League season draws toward a close with the Hens' already remote playoff hopes drifting farther away.
Toledo (56-63), the last-place team in the West Division, is 11 1/2 games out of an IL wild-card spot with just 24 games remaining.
The Bats (68-51) - who passed Columbus by a half game in the West after trailing by 13 games on July 4 - set the stage for their sweep of the Hens during a rough second inning for Toledo starter Charlie Furbush (2-2).
Four hits and a walk keyed Louisville's four-run rally, and the Bats began reaching for the broom when they chased Furbush in the sixth.
All four second-inning runs were produced by Louisville's Nos. 8 and 9 hitters - Chris Valaika and Eric Eymann - who combined for seven RBIs in the game.
Valaika's looping single to right plated Wladimir Balentien from third, and Eymann followed with a three-run homer. Valaika added a two-run double to extend Louisville's lead to 6-3 in the sixth, and Eymann added his fourth RBI of the game with a sacrifice fly in the eighth.
Valaika and Balantien, each 4-for-5 in the game, led the Bats' hit parade, which included eight extra-base hits.
"It fell apart the second half of that game," Hens manager Larry Parrish said. "I think we threw about 100 pitches in the last three and change innings pitched. You can't do that.
"There's a lot of guys who right now should be having the idea that they're pitching for next year and, for some of them, maybe for September [call-ups to Detroit]. There should be some incentive for them to get it done, and we didn't get it done tonight."
Before things got ugly on the scoreboard, Toledo did manage to pull from four down to within a run.
Brent Dlugach (3-for-4) singled off Reineke and scored on Mike Bertram's double. Scott Sizemore got the Hens within 4-3 in the fifth with his seventh home run of the season, a two-run shot off of Reineke.
"When you're in front of friends and family and people from back home you want to do your best," Reineke said of his relatively early exit. "In the first inning I had a little too much adrenaline and started overthrowing a little bit.
"I got into some deep counts. It wasn't any extra nerves. I just think maybe I was trying a little too hard. But I tried to battle and just keep us close.
"The way we're swinging the bats I felt pretty good about [a three-run lead]."
Toledo plays the fifth game of its current season-high, 11-game homestand tonight when it opens a four-game series against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, the first-place team in the IL's North Division.
Contact Steve Junga at:
Guidelines: Please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent. Comments that violate these standards, or our privacy statement or visitor's agreement, are subject to being removed and commenters are subject to being banned. To post comments, you must be a registered user on toledoblade.com. To find out more, please visit the FAQ.