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Mud Hens manager Phil Nevin realized he might be in a bit of trouble right around the seventh inning of Saturday's game.
"I was going to have go out and [take Andy Oliver] out of the game at some point," Nevin said. "I told [pitching coach] A.J. Sager I'd have to wear a bullet-proof vest when I went out there. I knew I would get booed."
Oliver held Columbus hitless until giving up a double in the seventh. He combined with relievers Darin Downs and Chris Bootcheck on a two-hitter to lead Toledo to a 2-1 victory over the Clippers at Fifth Third Field.
"That's as good as I have seen him," Nevin said of Oliver. "The stretches where he 'loses his groove' have gotten shorter and shorter the last three outings."
Oliver allowed three baserunners in the first six innings, one reaching on an error and the other two on walks. In the seventh he walked the first batter, Matt LaPorta, then struck out Russ Canzler before Beau Mills broke up the no-hit bid with a run-scoring double off the wall in right field.
Mills advanced to third on a groundout, but Oliver stranded the tying run there by striking out Matt Pagnozzi.
"I don't think [my stuff] was anything different than what I have had in my last few starts," Oliver said. "I was able to make pitches in counts to keep them off-balance.
"When they put the ball in play, we had guys there and they made the plays."
Oliver, who finished with six strikeouts and three walks, said he realized he had a no-hitter brewing after the fifth inning.
"But I can't go out there and think about it," he said. "I still have to make pitches, and if it's meant to be, it's meant to be.
"I can't do anything different than I did in the five innings that got me there."
Meanwhile the Mud Hens offense seemed poised to erupt for a number of runs against Columbus starter Corey Kluber. In the first inning Toledo scored twice when Quintin Berry and Matt Young led off with singles, while Ryan Strieby and Brad Eldred each drew walks, with Eldred's walk forcing home Berry.
One out later Jeff Frazier hit a slow roller and avoided a double play, allowing Young to cross the plate with a second run.
In the second inning the Mud Hens had three batters reach base on an error and two walks but didn't score, and after that Kluber was tough. He retired 10 of the last 12 batters he faced, striking out eight in that span, and finished with 10 whiffs.
Even the two batters who reached base were both erased on double plays.
"Their guy is the right-handed mirror of [Oliver]," Nevin said of Kluber. "They have great stuff, but they tend to lose the zone at times.
"He did for one inning, and we were able to make something happen with it."
That was enough thanks to Oliver and the bullpen, as Downs pitched a 1-2-3 eighth and Bootcheck got a double play and a flyout to record his seventh save.
NOTES: Eldred cleared waivers and reported to the Mud Hens Saturday. After his bases-loaded walk in the first he struck out in the third and sixth, ending his 20-game hit streak with Toledo. … Bootcheck gave up a single in the ninth, his first hit after six hitless outings. He now has claimed a save in each of his last six appearances. … Former Springfield High and University of Toledo football standout Eric Page signed autographs in the game's early innings.
Contact John Wagner at: email@example.com, 419-724-6481 or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.