The Tri-City Dust Devils couldn’t have hoped for a much better start Wednesday, getting a first-inning three-run homer by Josh Fuentes to grab an early lead on the road against the Hillsboro Hops.
But that lead deteriorated quickly, as the Hops got two runs in the first and two more in the second to take the lead en route to a 7-4 Northwest League win at Ron Tonkin Field.
Hillsboro (20-13) is holding on for dear life to a one-game lead over the Boise Hawks (19-14) in the South Division and got what they needed against the struggling Dust Devils, who lost for the eighth time in the last 10 games.
The Hops, who have won five of seven, got a big boost from starting pitcher Austin Platt, who allowed two earned runs — four in all — on just three hits in six innings to pick up his first win of the year.
Tri-City starter Blake Shouse tried his best to fight off the Hops, battling for five innings, but he gave up five runs on seven hits. Shouse, a fifth-round draft pick by the Colorado Rockies in 2013, watched his ERA rise to 7.36.
The Hops picked up another run in the fifth before the Dust Devils pulled to within 5-4 on a sixth-inning RBI single by Shane Hoelscher. But Hillsboro got two more in the bottom of the eighth to secure the win.
Three Hops’ relievers — Luis Ramirez, Cody Geyer and closer Zac Curtis — combined for three perfect innings.