INDIANAPOLIS (IndyIndians.com) - Center fielder Starling Marte was nearly as hot as the temperature at Victory Field on Thursday night, putting the Indians ahead with a three-run home run in the fourth inning and padding that lead with a two-run double in the sixth as Indianapolis went on to beat the Toledo Mud Hens 10-5.
All five of Marte's RBI on Thursday night came with two outs, including a long home run in the fourth inning that also scored SS Chase d'Arnaud, who reached on a fielders choice, and LF Gorkys Hernandez, who drew a two-out walk. The home run, Marte's eighth of the season, settled among the fans beyond the left-field corner and put the Indians ahead 6-5, a lead the Tribe would not relinquish.
The all-star center field also provided Indianapolis with some insurance in the bottom of the sixth inning with a two-out double that again scored d'Arnaud, who had singled, and Hernandez, who had drawn another two-out walk. The double was his 15th of the season and gave the Indians an 8-5 lead with Marte's team-leading 45th and 46th RBI of the season.
Indianapolis scratched out another pair of insurance runs in the bottom of the seventh -- and Marte didn't even come to the plate. With one out, DH Jordy Mercer lined a triple into the left-center field gap, extending his hitting streak to 12 games, and then scored on 2B Yamaico Navarro's single to center. With RF Brandon Boggs batting, Navarro stole second and advanced to third on an error when the throw scooted into the outfield before scoring when Boggs singled to center, giving the Indians their final 10-5 advantage.
The Mud Hens had jumped out to an early lead, scoring three runs in the top of the first as 2B Justin Henry, CF Matt Young and C Rob Brantly hit back-to-back-to-back singles and 1B John Lindsey drew a walk to send Henry plateward and put Toledo ahead 1-0 with no outs and the bases loaded.
A shallow flyout to right field was not deep enough to score a run, but LF Jerad Head was hit by a pitch to drive in Young and extend the Toledo lead to 2-0, still with the bases loaded but with one out. RF Ben Guez then singled on a line drive to left, scoring Brantly and reloading the bases but Indians starter Rick VandenHurk (5.0 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 3 K) induced a 5-3 double play to end the inning with the score 3-0 in favor of the Mud Hens.
VandenHurk, who came into the game 6-0 with a 2.72 ERA for Indianapolis, struggled as he allowed season-highs in hits and earned runs but nonetheless persevered for his team-leading seventh win of the season. The righty was picked up in a big way by his offense, who gave him a clean slate by scoring three runs of their own in the bottom of the first.
d'Arnaud and Hernandez drew back-to-back walks to lead off the frame before d'Arnaud advanced to third on a flyout to center field. With second base open, Hernandez advanced on a wild pitch by Toledo starter Andrew Oliver (4.0 IP, 5 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 5 BB, 1 K, 1 HR), who uncorked five wild pitches en route to suffering the loss and falling to 4-7 on the season.
After Hernandez advanced, both base runners scored when 3B Matt Hague -- in his first at bat with the Indians since May 24 -- singled to left. Hague then came around to score on 1B Jeff Clement's first double of the game and 22nd of the season, tying the game 3-3. Clement also doubled in the third inning, his 23rd of the season, which at the time was tied for the second-most in the International League.
Toledo scored lone runs in both the third and fourth innings, first when SS Cale Iorg tripled to the right field corner, driving in Guez, who had been hit by a pitch. In the fourth inning, Head singled to right to drive in Brantly, who had walked and advanced to second on DH Jeff Baisley's single.
All of Toledo's runs were scored off of VandenHurk as three Indianapolis relievers combined for 4.0 shutout innings to close out the game. RHP Bryan Morris (2.0 IP, 1 BB, 1 K) earned his seventh hold of the season on 2.0 shutout innings while fellow RHPs Evan Meek (1.0 IP, 1 H, 1 K) and Chris Leroux (1.0, 1 BB, 1 K) each tossed a scoreless frame.
The Indians (49-31) go for win No. 50 on the season Friday night as they wrap their homestand and try to win the series against Toledo (32-49). Indianapolis is expected to send LHP Jeff Locke (5-4, 3.27) to the mound for the 7:15 p.m. start while the Mud Hens will likely counter with LHP Adam Wilk (3-8, 3.93).
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