Jair Jurrjens suffered another rocky beginning in his fourth start for the Mud Hens.
Jurrjens gave up four runs to Norfolk in the first two innings, and Toledo never was able to recover in a 5-4 loss at Fifth Third Field on Friday night.
“We’ve got to get him a better jockey to get out of the gates in the first inning,” Hens manager Phil Nevin said.
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In his four Toledo starts, Jurrjens has given up 15 runs in the first three innings. From the fourth inning on, he has allowed just seven hits and three runs in 8 1/3 innings.
“I think I need to be more aggressive in the first couple of innings,” Jurrjens said. “I need to set all of my pitches up and go from there.
“In the first few innings I think I was trying to pitch away from contact, and that got me into trouble.”
Chris Dickers opened the game with a triple to deep center, and he trotted home when Mud Hens center fielder Kevin Russo was forced to making a diving catch on Yamaico Navarro’s line drive. Jason Pridie then blooped a single to center, and Danny Valencia crushed a two-run homer off the left-field scoreboard.
In the second, Jurrjens gave up a run on a walk, single, sacrifice, and groundout.
“They know I throw a lot of strikes, and they came out swinging,” Jurrjens said of the Tides. “But I was pitching away from contact, and that got me in trouble. And they took advantage of that.”
Two walks sandwiched around an error forced Jurrjens to escape a bases-loaded, none-out situation in the third, and he needed a double-play lineup to retire the Tides in the fourth. But that twin-killer started a string of nine straight Jurrjens retired until giving up a single in the seventh.
“He finished strong,” Nevin said of Jurrjens. “That was a heck of a job by him getting into the seventh inning, especially knowing we have a bullpen game [Saturday].”
The Mud Hens stayed close to Norfolk, scoring a run in the first inning on Nick Castellanos’ 14th home run this season, then adding a run in the third when Tides starter Freddy Garcia walked Castellanos and gave up a long double to Jordan Lennerton.
But that was all Toledo could muster until the ninth inning, when Mike Cervenak singled with two outs and Danny Dorn lifted a home run to left, his 24th of the year.
NOTES: With its sixth loss in the last eight games, Toledo was officially eliminated from winning the International League’s West Division. The Hens’ “tragic” number in the IL Wild Card race has fallen to three. … Toledo’s Hernan Perez left the game before the eighth inning to deal with a “family emergency.” … The Mud Hens played before a crowd of 10,500 for their 27th sellout this season.