INDIANAPOLIS (IndyIndians.com) - Indians first baseman Jeff Clement hit his ninth home run of the season on Wednesday afternoon, driving in three runs and scoring a pair as Indianapolis rode a five-run third inning to a 9-6 win over the division-rival Toledo Mud Hens at Victory Field.
Clement helped start the Tribe's scoring in the bottom of the third inning, when Indianapolis scored five runs and took the lead for good. LF Gorkys Hernandez singled to lead off the frame, advancing to second on a balk and, after a strikeout, to third on recently-annoited 2012 International League all-star CF Starling Marte's infield single before scoring on a single to right field by Clement.
At the time, Clement's single tied the game at 1-1. Toledo had taken a 1-0 lead in the top of the third when C Bryan Holaday singled and then came all the way around to score on a throwing error.
Indianapolis wasn't satisfied with just tying the game, however. SS Jordy Mercer, another 2012 IL all-star, followed Clement's RBI single with a double to center field, extending Mercer's hitting streak to 10 games and scoring Marte to give the Indians a 2-1 lead which they would not relinquish. DH Yamaico Navarro followed up with a double of his own to score Clement and extend the Tribe lead to 3-1 before RF Brandon Boggs drove in both Mercer and Navarro with a single to right, capping the five-run frame.
Before the third was over, the Indians had chased Toledo starter Thad Weber (2.2 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 4 K) from the game. The lefty allowed all five Indianapolis runs to that point and was handed his seventh lose of the season.
Clement added to the Tribe's lead with a two-run home run in the bottom of the fourth inning to put the Indians ahead 7-1. The longball, which landed near the apex of the seating berm beyond the right-field fence, was Clement's team-leading ninth off the season. Scoring ahead of Clement on the home run was Marte, who had just hit his league-leading 10th triple of the season.
The Mud Hens rallied in the top of the fifth, scoring three runs on just two hits. Holaday led off the inning with a double and former Indianapolis SS Argenis Diaz drew a walk before both advanced a base on a wild pitch. 2B Justin Henry followed with another Toledo double, driving in both base runners and cutting the Indianapolis lead to 7-3.
Henry then advanced to third on a groundout and scored on a sacrifice fly by DH John Lindsey to make it 7-4 Indians. Tribe starter Justin Wilson (5.0 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 8 K) was able to escape without further damage, however, as he recorded a strikeout on a foul tip that C Tony Sanchez was able to hold onto. Despite struggling in his later innings, Wilson picked up his sixth win of the season and recorded eight strikeouts, extending his team lead to 89 on the season.
After Toledo's rally in the top of the fifth, Indianapolis recovered a pair of the runs that had been given up. With one out, Sanchez doubled to left, diving head-first into second base ahead of the throw, before scoring on a bloop single by 3B Brian Friday, who advanced to second on the throw home. Friday then advanced to third on a groundout by Gorkys Hernandez and scored on a single by 2B Anderson Hernandez, pushing the Tribe's advantage to 9-4.
The Mud Hens pursued mini-rally in both the eighth and ninth innings, managing to plate a lone run in each. In the eighth, Lindsey doubled down the left-field line and advanced to third on a groundball and then scored on a groundball to cut the Indianapolis lead to 9-5.
In the ninth inning, RF Ben Guez drew a leadoff walk and, after a flyout, scored all the way from first on a double to center by Diaz. The run cut the Tribe's lead to 9-6 but was for naught as RHP Duke Welker (1.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 0 K) induced a pair of groundouts to end the game and close out the win.
The Indians (48-31) and Mud Hens (32-48) will continue their series on Thursday, with the first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m. Indianapolis is expected to send undefeated RHP Rick VandenHurk (6-0, 2.27) to the mound, while Toledo is likely to counter with LHP Andy Oliver (4-6, 4.01).
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