By Josh Cook
Ben Jukich and the Louisville Bats manhandled the Toledo Mud Hens on Wednesday night.
Jukich threw seven solid innings, while the Bats pounded out 11 hits to beat host Toledo 8-3 at Fifth Third Field.
The victory kept Louisville (77-61) a half-game behind Columbus (78-61), which beat Indianapolis 4-1 Wednesday, in the International League West with five games remaining in the regular season.
Meanwhile the Bats' postseason hopes still look good because they lead the IL wildcard race by four games over Syracuse (73-65) and 4 1/2 over Buffalo (73-66).
Jukich (6-4), a lanky left-hander, gave up just three hits while walking one and striking out seven over seven innings.
The Bats backed Jukich with one run in the first, another in the fifth, four in the sixth and two in the seventh.
In the first Zack Cozart hit into a fielder's choice, stole second, then scored on Wladimir Balentien's two-out double.
In the fifth Louisville third baseman Mike Costanzo, who was promoted from Double-A Carolina earlier in the day, doubled with oneout. He scored on Dave Sappelt's two-out, RBI-single.
Cozart led off the sixth with home run to left-center field. Danny Dorn followed with a single and Toledo starter Ryan Ketchner (5-5) walked Balentien before being replaced by Josh Rainwater. The new pitcher walked Todd Frazier, prompting a coaching visit to the mound, before Devin Mesoraco's double scored Dorn and Balentien but Frazier was thrown out at home. Luis Terrero, who also was promoted from Carolina earlier in the day, followed with a single to score Mesoraco.
The Bats added two more in the seventh when Sappelt led off with a single, then scored on Michael Griffin's two-out, two-run homer.
Jared Burton, who was activated off the seven-day disabled list earlier in the day, gave up one hit while striking out two before giving way to Jordan Smith in the ninth.
Smith gave up a pair of singles before allowing a three-run homer to Michael Bertram in the bottom of the ninth.
Sappelt, Griffin and Mesoraco each had two hits apiece for the Bats.
The Bats begin a three-game series at Indianapolis at 6 p.m. Thursday night.
Wednesday, the day that Major League Baseball teams expand their roster to 40, the Louisville Bats lost relief pitcher Carlos Fisher, slugger Yonder Alonso and catcher Corky Miller to the parent Cincinnati Reds. However they gained Terrero, Costanzo and left-handed pitcher Joseph Krebs from Carolina.
Also Wednesday, former Bat Chris Valaika and Balentien were named to the IL's postseason All-Star team.