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Fifth Third Field was starting to become a personal house of horrors for Thad Weber.
The Mud Hens right-hander entered Monday's game with an 0-5 record and 8.93 ERA in nine home starts this season, in sharp contrast to his 3-1 record and 3.26 ERA on the road.
But Monday Weber started turning those numbers around, holding Louisville in check over seven innings to lead the Hens to a 7-2 victory in front of 10,300 fans. Weber allowed just two runs on seven hits to the International League's best offense while striking out five to pitch Toledo to its second straight win.
"This was a long time coming for me," Weber said. "I've always been confident, and I've always felt my stuff is good enough. It's just been a matter of being consistent [with my pitches].
"Hopefully this is a sign of good things to come."
Weber said he tried to change his mind-set about pitching at home, but that positive outlook was challenged quickly when the game's first hitter, Zack Cozart, blooped a single to left and then stole second. Weber quickly got back-to-back strikeouts and a groundout to quell the threat.
"I thought I was much better mentally here at home than I had been in a long time," Weber said. "I felt I stayed within myself. When things got a little sticky, I tried to slow myself down and make pitches to get myself out of the inning.
"I tried to be aggressive. They are an aggressive hitting team, so I tried to throw more breaking balls and off-speed."
Weber stranded a pair of baserunners in the second and held Louisville hitless in eight at-bats with runners in scoring position.
"His breaking ball was very good," Mud Hens manager Phil Nevin said. "He knew when to go to it, which was important, but he got ahead of hitters and threw strikes.
"And what I liked was that, when he faced adversity -- when he didn't get a call on a pitch, or he gave up that home run -- he bounced right back and punched back. It was good to see that."
The home run came in the fourth off the bat of Todd Frazier, who followed a single by Yonder Alonso with his 14th homer of the season to tie the game at 2-2.
"In the past, when Frazier hits that home run -- on what I thought was a pretty good pitch -- I might have let that take me out of what I was trying to do," Weber admitted. "And things would snowball from there.
"When Frazier hit the home run, I tried to jump right back in there, be aggressive, and put that behind me."
Meanwhile the Mud Hens offense pounded out 14 hits, including three by Timo Perez. Perez had gone 1-for-14 since returning to the team on Saturday after leaving on June 19 to be with his son, who had surgery in the Dominican Republic.
Monday Perez had a run-scoring groundout in the first, then slammed his fifth home run of the season off the buildings behind the right-field fence in the third. In the seventh he keyed a two-run rally with a double that scored Danny Worth; Jeff Salazar pinch-ran for Perez and scored on a double by Ryan Strieby.
"He brings a lot to this lineup, but he also brings a lot to this [clubhouse]," Nevin said of Perez. "We missed that for a week.
"Thankfully his son is doing well, and we're happy to have him back. He brings energy to the room, and for a guy who has played in the big leagues to do what he does rubs off on guys.
"But the at-bats he takes rub off on guys too. And that's been evident the past two days."
NOTES: Tigers pitcher Brad Thomas continued his rehab assignment by striking out all three batters he faced in the eighth. Nevin said Thomas will pitch again Tuesday when the Hens play at Columbus, and his status will be reassessed after that appearance. ... Monday's crowd was the Mud Hens' ninth sellout this season and the 277th in the 10-year history of Fifth Third Field.
Contact John Wagner at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6481.