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Chiefs trip up Mud Hens with help from Lambin

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Chiefs trip up Mud Hens with help from Lambin

By JOHN WAGNERBLADE SPORTS WRITER

Syracuse third baseman Chase Lambin would like a do-over on his at-bat in the sixth inning of his team's 5-3 win over the Mud Hens at Fifth Third Field last night.

"[Toledo reliever Josh Rainwater] just got in on me," Lambin said of that at-bat. "I had him as a sinkerballer - I didn't know he threw 94 [miles per hour]. He threw 94 on my hands, and that surprised me.

"I wish I could have fouled the ball off and gotten another pitch."

In that at-bat Lambin hit an easy roller to second for an out - the only time Hens pitchers retired him.

Lambin hit a towering home run in the second, then just missed hitting a second homer when he doubled high off the wall in left-center in the fourth. He completed his 3-for-4 night by collecting a two-out RBI single in the eighth, leaving him only a triple short of the cycle.

"When you're swinging the bat well, you can hit good pitches," Lambin said. "It was just one of those days where everything looked good to hit.

"I stayed on a changeup down for the home run, and then I got a fastball that was down and hit it hard [for a double].

"Sometimes it comes easy, and sometimes it doesn't. You just hope to have more games like this."

Last season the 30-year-old Lambin played in Japan, hitting .192 in 58 games for the Chiba Lotte Marines.

Lambin has hit .349 in his first 17 games with the Chiefs this season and ranks among the International League leaders with his five home runs and 14 RBIs.

But Lambin hopes to use more than his bat to reach the majors.

"I can play all of the infield positions, and I can play in the outfield," he said. "I can switch-hit, and I have power from both sides [of the plate]. I'm not a burner, but I run the bases well.

"I'm not going to blow you away, but the fact that I can play so many positions and have some power at the plate sounds pretty good to me."

Things looked pretty good for the Mud Hens early as they got singles by Will Rhymes and Jeff Frazier to set up a three-run line-drive homer by Casper Wells, giving them a 3-0 lead just four batters into the game.

But from that point on Toledo had just two hits and four baserunners total off Syracuse starter Chuck James and relievers Doug Slaten, Atahualpa Severino, and Joel Peralta.

"We just never got anything going [after the first]," Mud Hens manager Larry Parrish said.

"But give the other team credit for pitching pretty good. And we have a lot of left-handers in our lineup who haven't gotten it going against left-handers."

James, Slaten, and Severino are southpaws.

Lambin's home run got the Chiefs rally started, and in the third inning a two-out throwing error by shortstop Brent Dlugach allowed Syracuse shortstop Eric Bruntlett to reach second base, where he scored an unearned run on a soft single by Mike Morse.

In the fourth a double by Lambin and a sacrifice fly by Seth Bynum - which followed an infield hit by Pete Orr on a play where Toledo starter Ryan Ketchner was late covering first - tied the contest. If the Hens get the out on Orr, Bynum's sacrifice fly turns into an inning-ending flyout.

"Defensively, we let them get back into the game," Parrish said. "When we let the runner go to second, that allowed him to score on a squib hit - and I'm not sure how we let that squib hit get through the infield without us getting close to the ball.

"In the next inning, Ketch[ner] didn't cover first base, and that let them keep the inning going. In a close game, those are the plays we have to make."

In the sixth, Syracuse took the lead for good when Josh Whitesell hammered a home run to left, and the Chiefs added an insurance run in the eighth on Lambin's RBI single.

Contact John Wagner at:

jwagner@theblade.comor 419-724-6481.

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