Bats Struggle Late, Fall to Hens 6-3
The story early was starting pitching. Toledo starter, Ruddy Lugo, retired the Bats in order in five of their first six innings. Their lone threat came in the second when they loaded the bases with three singles, but were unable to score as Chris Denove flied out to end the threat.
Through six innings, Maloney stood toe-to-toe with Lugo, allowing only a sacrifice fly off of the bat of Will Rhymes in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Trailing 1-0 in the seventh inning, the Bats finally were able to get to Lugo. Juan Francisco led off the inning with a single to right and then scored on a home run by the recently promoted, Todd Frazier. Frazier's first career Triple-A home run gave the Bats their first lead of the night, at 2-1. After two consecutive ground outs, the Bats were able to tack on another run as Chris Valaika doubled to left and scored on a single by Denove.
Toledo immediately countered in the bottom half of the seventh. Jeff Frazier, Brent Dlugach and Brent Clevlen led off the inning with the three straight doubles, ending the night for Maloney and evening the game at 3-3. Pedro Viola entered the game and retired the first two batters he faced but a two-out double by Scott Sizemore scored Clevlen and gave the Mud Ducks the 4-3 lead.
Frazier and Clevlen each connected on doubles in the eighth inning as well, highlighting a two-run eighth inning which put Toledo up to stay at 6-4.
Lugo (12-8, 3.99) picked up the win for the Hens, allowing three runs off of seven hits in seven innings of work. He struck out three and walked none. Jeremy Bonderman entered in the eighth and closed out the game, earning his first save with the Mud Hens.
Maloney (9-9, 3.08) once again was the hard-luck loser. He went six-plus innings, allowing four runs off of six hits, while walking two and striking out seven.
Offensively for the Bats, both Juan Francisco and Chris Valaika had multi-hit nights.
The Bats now lead the Hens by 7.5 games, which is the smallest their lead has been since July 9th. The Hens, winners of eight straight, look to continue their late-season run tomorrow night as these two teams square off at 6:30 p.m. LHP Ben Jukich (7-6, 4.62) will get the start for the Bats and be opposed by RHP Brooks Brown (3-10, 4.33).