PASCO, Wash. — The way the ball wasn't traveling Wednesday night at Gesa Stadium, it figured that the Tri-City Dust Devils' winning run reached on a strikeout.
Rosell Herrera's heads-up baserunning, including a "steal" of first on strike three in the dirt, led to Derek Jones' go-ahead single in the eighth inning, and the Tri-City bullpen shut the lights on the Eugene Emeralds in a 4-3 Northwest League victory for the Dust Devils.
One night after snapping an eight-game losing streak thanks to the longball in Spokane, Tri-City (11-18) took advantage of its short game. Five of the Dust Devils' eight hits failed to escape the infield.
"That's exactly what we wanted to do: be aggressive," Dust Devils manager Fred Ocasio said. "In Spokane, the ball flies a lot better than it does here, obviously. This is a pitcher's park, and we wanted to take advantage."
Ben Hughes got the start for Tri-City and cruised through the first four innings without giving up a hit.
A broken-bat single to short in the fifth was the first hit for the Ems (17-13), who got the run on Felix Cabrera's double to left.
The beginning of the end of Hughes' night came on a 120-foot double in the next inning.
Eugene's Stephen Carmon hit a slow roller down the third-base line with one out in the sixth. Dust Devils third baseman Patrick Hutcheson charged in, then took a chance on the ball rolling foul.
Instead, it stayed fair, hopped over third and died in shallow left field.
Unfortunately for Hughes, the next batter, Jeremy Baltz, drilled a triple to right to plate Carmon and pull the Ems within 3-2.
Reliever Matt Flemer came on but couldn't stop Eugene from tying the score on a sacrifice fly. Francisco Sosa made a nice sliding catch in left to get the out.
Flemer (3-2) threw 22/3 innings of hitless relief for the win, and Seth Willoughby struck out the side in the ninth for his seventh save.
Tri-City's final home series started quietly.
The Dust Devils used the smallest of ball to get on the board in the third, with Hutcheson and Yafistel Roja reaching on bunt singles and Kyle Von Tungeln beating out a high chopper to first to load the bases.
Hutcheson came around on a wild pitch, and Roja scored on Herrera's sacrifice fly to right. A groundout to short moved Von Tungeln to third, and he scored on Sosa's dying quail to center that fell in for a 3-0 lead.
"That was a good inning," Ocasio said. "Hutcheson and Roja, those were two perfect bunts."
The Dust Devils turned the defensive play of the night in the fourth.
Hughes walked a pair and was in a little trouble with one out. But a grounder seemingly headed for center field instead was flagged down by shortstop Herrera, who easily got the batter at first. The runner from second, however, kept chugging around third and headed for home, and first baseman Matt Argyropoulos fired to Tom Murphy for the easy out and a 6-3-2 double play.
Notes: The announced attendance was 1,641. ... Tonight's projected starters are Peter Tago (2-6, 5.30 ERA) for the Dust Devils and Joe Ross (0-2, 2.70) for the Ems. ... Colorado Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd was in town, but not just to keep tabs on the club's short-season A affiliate. O'Dowd's son, Chris O'Dowd, is a catcher for the Ems, getting drafted in the 23rd round in June.
* Kevin Anthony: 509-582-1403; firstname.lastname@example.org