Quick start not enough as Hens fall in series finale

Toledo Mud Hens
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Toledo Mud Hens smashed three home runs against the Columbus Clippers on Sunday, but were forced to settle for a series split after dropping an 8-7 decision at Huntington Park.

The result puts the Mud Hens (49-40) one game behind first-place Omaha in the Midwest Division standings, pending the outcome of the latter’s matchup versus Iowa.

Aderlin Rodríguez finished 2-for-5 with a solo shot in the top of the seventh inning, tying Omaha infielder Ryan McBroom for the Triple-A East lead with his 22nd home run of the campaign. Kody Clemens ended the day 2-for-5 with a two-run homer and a pair of runs, while Yariel Gonzalez went 1-for-4 with a two-run drive of his own. Josh Lester also tallied multiple hits, going 2-for-5 with a pair of singles and an RBI.

Mark Leiter Jr. recorded four strikeouts in 4.2 innings of work, taking the loss after conceding five earned runs on six hits and a four walks. Wladimir Pinto and Angel De Jesus each recorded a pair of strikeouts as both men tossed a perfect inning out of the Hen Pen.

The Mud Hens needed little time to grab a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning. After Daz Cameron ripped a base hit up the middle to begin the contest, Clemens opened the scoring with a two-run drive to center for his second home run in as many games and 11th of the year.

Columbus (40-48) responded with a run in the bottom of the same frame. Trenton Brooks smashed a leadoff double off the right-field wall, and came around to score when Daniel Johnson singled up the middle.

Toledo added to its total with a pair of runs in the top of the third. Clemens grounded a base hit that deflected into right field, and eventually moved up to second when Christin Stewart was hit by a pitch. JaCoby Jones and Lester then hit back-to-back two-out singles that plated Clemens and Stewart, respectively, to make it a 4-1 ballgame.

The Clippers turned the tables in the home half of the fourth, using two homers to drive in four runs and seize a 5-4 advantage. Ryan Lavarnway started the rally by hitting an opposite-field homer over the right-field wall to close the gap to 4-2. Nolan Jones and Richard Palacios both reached on walks later in the inning, and trotted home when Alex Call whacked a two-out, three-run shot to right.

The hosts gained more breathing room with a three-spot in the bottom of the sixth. With the bases loaded and one down, Gabriel Arias chopped a ground ball to third that allowed to score and extend the lead to 6-4. Johnson then lined a two-run single into center to plate Call and Brooks, giving the Clippers an 8-4 cushion.

Toledo refused to go away quietly, scoring once in the seventh before adding two more runs an inning later. Rodríguez greeted former Mud Hen outfielder Anthony Gose with a home run that hit the batter’s eye in center to start the top of the seventh. In the eighth, Juan Centeno started the frame with a four-pitch walk against Francisco Perez, and scored when Gonzalez lined a two-run homer to left that sliced the deficit to 8-7.

What’s Next:
The Mud Hens will play 12 games in 13 days within the friendly confines of Fifth Third Field, beginning on Tuesday when they host the Indianapolis Indians at 7:05 p.m.

Hens Notes:
• The Mud Hens are 34-17 when scoring first this season.
• The Mud Hens are 14-10 against Columbus in the regular-season series, with six more head-to-head meetings from Sept. 14-19 at Fifth Third Field.
• Eleven of Aderlin Rodríguez’s 22 home runs have been solo shots. Rodríguez also paces the Mud Hens with 29 multi-hit outings.
Aderlin Rodríguez leads the Triple-A East with 181 total bases along with a .609 SLG and 1.000 OPS.

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