LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Denis Phipps and Mark Hessman combined for three home runs on Friday night at Louisville Slugger Field to power the Louisville Bats to their second straight win over the Toledo Mud Hens to start the 2013 season, 6-4. Speedster Billy Hamilton notched his first three stolen bases of the season and his Triple-A career, including a steal of home on a double steal.
Hamilton left the game in the fourth inning after diving back into second base on a pick-off attempt. He is considered day-to-day.
Louisville (2-0) secured at least a series split with their 6-4 victory over Toledo (0-2).
Hessman now has four home runs in his first two games with the Bats against his former team, the Mud Hens. After two games, he is hitting .571 with four RBIs, all from his solo home runs.
Phipps tallied his first home run of 2013 after leading the Bats with 15 home runs in 2012.
Armando Galarraga, making his Bats debut, worked through five innings, allowing only two runs (one earned) on five hits and two walks while striking out six.
Entering the top of the ninth down 6-2, Toledo tried to mirror their opening day ninth-inning comeback when Kevin Russo's 2-out RBI double scored Quintin Berry and Bryan Holaday, but reliever Clay Hensley struck out Nick Castellanos to close the door on the rally and secure the Bats' 6-4 victory.
Emmanuel Burriss' smooth sliding stop that started a crucial double play to avoid first-inning trouble for Louisville was the defensive highlight of the night, and Galarraga was able to strike out Castellanos to end Toledo's first-inning threat.
It wasn't long before Hamilton led off the home half of the first with a double, his second in as many days. Hamilton proceeded to steal third easily before taking home on a double steal to take a 1-0 lead.
Henry Rodriguez tacked on an RBI double in the inning, and Phipps added two more with a 420-foot blast to left field that scored Rodriguez and extended the Bats lead to 4-0 after the first. Phipps now has three RBIs on the season.
With one out in the top of the third, Hens second baseman Argenis Diaz recorded his first hit of the season when he slapped an opposite-field double to left. After a wild pitch allowed Diaz to advance to third, Berry grounded out to second baseman Jason Donald, which was enough to score Diaz and cut the Bats' lead to 4-1.
First baseman Hessman stayed hot to start the 2013 campaign against his former team when he sent his third home run of the season to left-center field in Bats' half of the third to reclaim a four-run lead, 5-1. The home run added to Hessman's lead in career home runs among active players in MiLB, bringing his all-time total to 387.
Galarraga walked the bases full following Burriss' second error of the game, then walked Quintin Berry to score the second Mud Hens run and cut the lead back down to three at 5-2.
After three innings, Luke Putkonen relieved Misch in the bottom of the fourth. Misch left the game after allowing five earned runs on six hits in three innings, striking out six.
Hamilton led off the Bats' fourth with a line drive single to left. He added his third steal of the game when he swiped second, making him only the third Bat to accomplish the feat since 2010 when both Chris Burke and Zach Cozart stole three in a game.
After laboring through the first four innings, Galarraga registered a strong fifth, striking out one and throwing only eight pitches en route to retiring the Toledo side in order. Jose Arredondo came on in the sixth to relieve Gallaraga, and threw two hitless innings while striking out three.
Hessman unloaded on his second home run of the game in the bottom of the sixth inning, making it his second consecutive game with two home runs and extending the Louisville lead to 6-2.
Mark Prior, the second overall pick in the 2001 MLB Draft, made his 2013 debut in the top of the eighth inning, setting down the Toledo side in order, striking out one.
The Bats and Mud Hens will meet again on Saturday at 2:05 p.m. when Louisville will look to secure their first series victory of 2013. Bats right-hander Greg Reynolds is scheduled to take the mound against Mud Hens lefty Casey Crosby. Saturday is also Corky Miller bobblehead day. The first 2,500 fans through the gates will receive a Corky Miller bobblehead.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.