The Tri-City Dust Devils inched closer to elimination in the race for a Northwest League playoff spot, losing their fifth consecutive game Monday at Avista Stadium in Spokane.
Indians catcher Joe Maloney hit a two-run triple with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning to break a 2-2 tie, just enough to give Spokane a 4-3 victory.
The loss dropped Tri-City (9-18 second half) nine games behind East Division leader Boise (18-9), whose magic number to clinch the second half title is now six games.
The Dust Devils took a 2-0 lead in the top of the second inning after a Derek Jones single and a Dillon Thomas walk led to a double steal, putting both in scoring position with two outs.
Alec Mehrten followed with a ground ball single up the middle to bring them home.
Spokane evened the score against Dust Devils starter Ryan Arrowood in the bottom of the third inning, as Gabriel Roa doubled to bring home Smerling Lantigua and later scored on a fielding error by Mehrten at third base to make it 2-2.
The teams exchanged scoreless frames over the next four innings before Royce Bolinger singled to lead off the eighth, took second on a wild pitch by Tri-City reliever Matt Flemer. After an intentional walk to Joey Gallo, Flemer retired Preston Beck for the second out of the inning.
But Maloney the No. 8 hitter in the Indians lineup emptied the bases with a triple into the right center field gap, scoring Bolinger and Gallo to make it 4-2.
The Dust Devils made things interesting in the top of the ninth, as Mehrten and Yafistel Roja hit back-to-back one-out singles off Spokane reliever Alec Asher. Kyle Von Tungeln doubled to bring home Mehrten, cutting the lead to 4-3, and Roja held at third with No. 2 hitter Rosell Herrera coming to the plate.
But Herrera struck out and Tom Murphy flied out to center to end the game, stranding the tying run at third.
Flemer (2-2) took the loss, allowing two runs on three hits in 22⁄3 innings. Asher (2-3) earned the win despite a close call in the final inning.