PASCO -- The Tri-City Dust Devils had an opportunity to give Salem-Keizer some trouble Wednesday night at Gesa Stadium.
Trailing by four entering the ninth inning, the Dust Devils loaded the bases with nobody out against Volcanoes reliever Cody Hall.
But Hall struck out Jayson Langfels and David Hernandez before Phil McCormick came in to induce a game-ending groundout by Brian Humphries to clinch the Volcanoes' 4-0 Northwest League win.
"It's never good to get shut out, especially here. We've done very well at home," said Humph-ries, who finished 2-for-5 and tied for the team lead with his 11th stolen base.
"Today we just couldn't hit. It seems like that's been our problem the last couple weeks. It's hard to win when you can't get hits."
S-K's 1-2-3 hitters -- Jesus Galindo, Kaohi Downing and league MVP Joe Panik -- combined for seven hits and all four RBIs. Downing drove in two with a pair of RBI singles. Galindo, who scored two runs, stole two more bases to increase his league-leading total to 45.
The Dust Devils left 10 runners on base, including five in scoring position over the last three innings. But the Volcanoes managed to escape trouble each time, sometimes with help from Tri-City.
Salem-Keizer starter Cameron Lamb (4-6) got the win, tossing six shutout innings, while McCormick picked up his sixth save.
Ricardo Ferrer (2-6) took the loss for Tri-City, allowing three runs -- two earned -- over five innings.
Hernandez reached on an error to lead off the eighth and took second on a balk. But he committed a key baserunning error, heading to third on a Humphries grounder deep in the hole on the left side. Panik, the S-K shortstop, would have had to throw across his body to get Humphries at first -- an extremely difficult play.
Instead, all he had to do was make a simple flip to Garrett Buechele at third to get Hernandez.
"That was a little too aggressive. You've got to let the ball go through," Dust Devils manager Fred Ocasio said. "You just can't run into an out."
Tri-City (41-32 overall, 19-16 second half) remained a game ahead of Yakima (31-42, 18-17) in the East Division standings with three more regular-season games left before the Dust Devils begin the NWL divisional playoffs on the road Monday. Tri-City will host Games 2 and 3 (if necessary) on Tuesday and Wednesday at Gesa Stadium.
NOTES: Today's pitching matchups: Tri-City RHP Tyler Gagnon (3-3, 2.66 ERA) against Salem-Keizer RHP Paul Davis (1-0, 1.80). ... Dust Devils OF Tyler Massey had an 18-game hitting streak snapped after going 0-for-4. His best chance at a hit was a line drive straight at Volcanoes 3B Buechele in the bottom of the fourth. ... The game was interrupted briefly with one out in the top of the third when base umpire Travis Eggerts ejected S-K manager Tom Trebelhorn from the dugout. Trebelhorn, who managed the Tri-City Posse to the Western Baseball League championship series in 1995, engaged Eggerts with some animated discussion before chewing on home plate ump Matt Czajak. Before he left, however, he stopped just outside the batter's circle, took off his hat and took a few bows to the crowd. According to Volcanoes radio broadcaster Michael Trevino, it was the fourth time Eggerts has tossed Trebelhorn from a game this season. ... Dust Devils alumni update: Modesto OF Kent Matthes (2009) was named the California League MVP after hitting .334 with 23 home runs and 95 RBIs. His teammate, RHP Chad Bettis, (2010) earned Cal League pitcher of the year honors with a 12-5 record and a 3.44 ERA. SS Josh Rutledge (2010) was also named to the league's all-star team after finishing with a .342 average.
* Jack Millikin; 582-1406; firstname.lastname@example.org; Read his Walk in the Park blog on sportstricities.com