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Hops stop Indians again

If the Spokane Indians come up short in their bid to qualify for the Northwest League playoffs, two factors might stand out: their record against the Hillsboro Hops and their record on their home field, Avista Stadium. Spokane's 5-1 loss to the Hops on Sunday left them 3-5 against Hillsboro this season and 15-15 at home. The Hops are 19-35 against the rest of the league. Spokane (32-30) has played better on the road (17-15) than at home. The Indians, clinging to a one-game lead in the North Division, can change their home fortunes in the next five nights, with games Monday and Tuesday against Hillsboro and Wednesday through Friday against Tri-City. Read story

Spokane needs to win one of its two remaining games against the Hops to finish better than .500 against the South Division. The Indians are 20-18 against the South. Their final 12 games of the season will be against their North Division.

“I think our teams are really comparable,” Indians manager Tim Hulett said of the Hops. “We play the same kind of game. With both sides pitching well, it’s hard to generate a lot of runs.”

Indians starter Kelvin Vasquez lowered his ERA to 2.28 in his 11th start. His one mistake was a 3-1 pitch that Hops right fielder Brian Billigen deposited beyond the fence near the scoreboard in right-center. It was Billigen's first homer with the Hops in his 138th at-bat.

Hops starter Ryan Doran allowed three of his six hits in the second inning. He set the Indians down in order in the third, fourth and fifth innings.

“I didn’t know a lot about (the Indians) coming in … basically what they told me was to stick to my plan, move the fastball around the plate and just kind of make adjustments as you go,” Doran said.  “That’s kind of how they teach us to pitch when we’re developing. You have to learn to make adjustments.”

The game was free of walks until third Indians pitcher Justin Sprenger walked Jordan Parr to lead off the ninth. Sprenger had Parr at third base and Ryan Gebhardt at second with one out when he started Taylor Ratliff with a 0-2 count. Ratliff bounced a two-run single up the middle against the Indians' drawn-in infield.

“We can’t expect perfection out of them,” Hulett said of his relievers. “They’ve been pretty good. We’re going to have games like this.”

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Jim Allen (@srjimallen) Sports reporter Jim Allen's primary coverage areas are Eastern Washington University football and men's basketball, and college and high school soccer. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Jim Meehan (@srjimm) Jim Meehan's coverage areas include Gonzaga University men's basketball, Spokane Shock football, golf and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Chris Derrick Chris Derrick is a sports reporter. His primary coverage areas are the Spokane Chiefs, Spokane Indians, women's basketball and high school softball and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Vince Grippi is the online producer for SportsLink, a product of The Spokesman-Review.

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