COLUMBUS — Newly acquired Jeff Salazar homered in his debut with Toledo, but it was only run the Mud Hens could generate in a 3-1 loss to the Columbus Clippers at Huntington Park on Monday.
The Clippers got out to an early 1-0 lead in the first when former big leaguer Nick Johnson blooped an RBI single into center. Johnson is trying to bounce back from an injury-plagued 2010 season, but the Cleveland Indians are hopeful he can contribute to the big league club later this season.
Jerad Head dropped another RBI single into center field in the second inning to extend the Columbus lead to 2-0.
Shelly Duncan, who was a big contributor to the Indians early in the season, tacked on the Clippers’ third run in the third with his own RBI single to left, but those were the only runs given up by Brayan Villarreal, who left after seven innings.
Salazar, who was picked up after being released by the Rockies earlier this month, kept the Clippers lead at 3-0 by making a running catch that took him all the way to the right-center field wall.
Ryan Perry, on rehab assignment from Detroit, had another impressive relief appearance. Perry hurled a scoreless eighth and also struck out a batter.
The Hens had just two hits heading into the ninth, then Salazar led off the frame by hammering a drive off the right-field scoreboard to cut the lead to 3-1.
Then with one out, another rehabbing Tiger, Brandon Inge, lined a single to left. Following a couple of wild pitches to Ryan Strieby, Inge advanced to third. Strieby then walked. However, on the first pitch, Bryan Pounds ended the game by grounding into a double play.
Scott Barnes (6-1) got the victory for Columbus (48-23), pitching seven scoreless innings. Justin Germano got the save after relieving Carlton Smith in the ninth.