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Toledo has played four straight games that have been decided by one run but the hard-luck Mud Hens came out on the short end for the third time since Thursday.
The basement-dwelling Mud Hens had their best pitcher on the mound to face Indianapolis, the best team in the International League West Division, on Sunday night. Toledo let an early lead slip away and its rally fell just short in a 6-5 setback before a crowd of 9,233 at Fifth Third Field.
“I think we're playing some good baseball,” Mud Hens manager Phil Nevin said. “We've played good all week and yet we went 1-3.”
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Toledo (53-71) rallied from a four-run deficit with two runs in the sixth and one in the eighth.
It started well for Toledo starter Jose Alvarez, who entered the game with the most wins of any Hens pitcher with eight. After two scoreless innings that included four strikeouts, Indianapolis struck for five runs against Alvarez in the next three frames.
Toledo first baseman Jordan Lennerton hit his 16th home run of the season in the eighth inning to make it 6-5. The left-handed hitter's solo homer hit the top of the fence and bounced back onto the field. It was initially called a double. After Nevin briefly argued, the umps called Lennerton's shot that smacked off the yellow piping a home run.
According to the rules at Fifth Third Field, a ball must go over the yellow line to be a home run.
“I watched the umpires talking and I hoped someone in there thought the initial ruling was wrong,” Lennerton said. “Phil thought it hit someone in the chest up there but I couldn't tell.”
Alvarez, who has started in four games in the majors for the Tigers, lasted just 4 2/3 innings.
“I just thought he lost command with his pitches,” Nevin said. “They did a good job laying off the sliders that he normally gets a lot of swings at.”
Relievers Kenny Faulk and Luke Putkonen kept the game close for the Mud Hens.
Second baseman Omar Infante, who is on a rehab assignment from Detroit, went 0 for 3 with a walk before being pulled in the eighth inning. Nevin said he expects Infante, who is batting .211 in five games with Toledo, to return to the Tigers soon.
“We will evaluate him [Sunday night],” Nevin said. “But I would anticipate that he's probably ready to go [back up]. The plan was to play him for seven innings.”
The Mud Hens have an off-day today before playing eight more in a row at home. Toledo had back-to-back run scoring doubles with two outs in the second inning. Toledo right fielder Ben Guez saved a run with a fine running catch in the third and also made a diving catch to end the fourth .
The Hens made it 6-3 when Lennerton scored on Danny Dorn's RBI single.
“It's been a trying season for us,” Lennerton said. “But we weren't playing bad. We lost a lot of one-run games. We have a great group of guys and there is no one here that is going to roll over.”
After Lennerton's solo homer, the Hens had the tying run and winning run on base with one out. Indians reliever Vic Black got a strikeout and pop out to end the threat. Argenis Diaz doubled with one out in the ninth but was stranded at third.
Contact Mark Monroe at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6354 or on Twitter @MonroeBlade.