PASCO -- Fortune often favors the bold, and the Tri-City Dust Devils were six different kinds of it during a 7-0 shutout win over the Vancouver Canadians on Saturday at Gesa Stadium.
The Dust Devils continued their assault on Northwest League pitchers, hammering out 12 hits -- three by Tyler Massey -- while Nelson Gonzalez picked up his league-leading sixth victory on the mound in front of 2,740 fans.
Against a team that hadn't been shut out through the first 38 games, Tri-City notched its fourth shutout of the season and second in three days.
"I'm feeling happy about being on this staff. I thank God for the chance, and I know we've all been working hard," said Gonzalez, who scattered six hits and struck out six batters through six innings.
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Rafael Suarez, Craig Bennigson and Ken Roberts each tossed a scoreless inning of relief to wrap up the win.
Gonzalez (6-0) had to escape some trouble in the fourth inning, however, when he loaded the bases with no outs before retiring the side.
"I didn't feel nervous. I've been in that situation before," Gonzalez said through an interpreter, fellow Dust Devils pitcher Ricardo Ferrer.
Gonzalez struck out Roan Salas and Steve McQuail -- the Nos. 6 and 7 hitters -- before getting Pierce Rankin to ground out to second to end the inning.
"Once I got that first strikeout, it was easier," Gonzalez said. "After that, I got even madder. I wanted to strike them all out."
The Dust Devils made things easy on Gonzalez, scoring twice in the first, adding single runs in the second and third and finally tallying three more in the fourth to put the game virtually out of reach after four innings.
But another big factor was defense.
"This was the ninth straight game we've played without an error," Tri-City manager Fred Ocasio said. "Defense definitely helps. We've been in some close games, losing 4-3 or 3-2, and when you give teams extra chances to score, they'll take advantage."
Massey had a big night, going 3-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs. But he turned a potential baserunning miscue into a run in the first inning.
With the Dust Devils leading 1-0 and Massey at second base, Juan Crousset lined a hard single into shallow center, and Ocasio wanted Massey to hold up at third. But Massey missed the sign and headed towards home instead. A good throw from Vancouver shortstop Bryan Kervin had Massey beat, but Rankin dropped the throw, giving Tri-City a 2-0 lead.
"I needed to check the outfield because the centerfielder was playing really shallow. In a 1-0 game, I'm trying to be aggressive," Massey said. "Baseball is like that sometimes. Things will go your way. Sometimes they don't."
Things got even better for Massey in the fourth, when he sliced a two-run double into the left-field corner to push the Dust Devils lead to 6-0.
"I've heard the stories about (Gesa Stadium), but it's a place where you get your true hits," he said. "The truth is, if you can hit the ball gap to gap, you have a lot of time to run."
Brian Humphries, Crousset and Richard Pirkle each had two hits for Tri-City.
Vancouver starter Jesse Hernandez (1-2) took the loss, giving up seven runs -- five earned -- on 11 hits in four innings.
NOTES: Today's pitching matchups: Tri-City RHP Tyler Gagnon (1-1, 3.12 ERA) against Vancouver RHP Kramer Champlin (0-0, 4.50). ... The Dust Devils will hold a Little League clinic before the game at Gesa Stadium. For $5, boys and girls ages 5-13 get a ticket to the game and can participate in a baseball clinic from 3-5 p.m. run by Ocasio and Tri-City hitting coach Anthony Sanders with help from Dust Devils players. Kids are encouraged to bring gloves. ... Dust Devils alumni update: RHP Josh Slaats (2010) improved to 7-1, allowing one run on six hits with seven strikeouts in the Asheville Tourists' 5-1 win at Kannapolis. Dustin Garneau (2010) went 2-for-4 with his 14th homer of the year. At High-A Modesto, Edwar Cabrera (2010) allowed two runs on six hits over seven innings to improve to 3-0 in the Nuts' 7-3 home win over Bakersfield. At Double-A Tulsa, Cory Riordan (2006) had a quality start despite the Drillers' 4-0 loss at Arkansas, giving up three runs on seven hits through six innings to fall to 1-11.
* Jack Millikin; 509-582-1406; email@example.com