The Portland Rockies have earned the right to attempt weird stunts.
So when Elvis Pena tried unsuccessfully to duplicate Garrett Neubart’s one-out bunt single in the sixth inning Wednesday afternoon, few Rockies batted an eye.
The gamble didn’t cost the Rockies, however, as Matt Whitley doubled in Neubart and Dave Feuerstein followed with a two-run homer.
That’s all Portland (26-13) needed for a 3-2 win over the Spokane Indians at windy Seafirst Stadium.
Portland, the Northwest League Southern Division leader, snapped a two-game losing streak. Spokane (15-25) had beaten the Rockies four consecutive times, including the first two games of this five-game series.
“I just wanted to beat (Spokane) because, for some reason, these guys have had our number,” said Portland starter Scott Randall (5-0).
Randall, who allowed unearned runs in the first and third innings, lowered his league-leading earned run average to 0.77.
The right-hander from Santa Barbara (Calif.) Community College was oh-so-close to seeing his perfect record wiped out.
Spokane starter Stephen Prihoda (0-2) had checked Portland on three hits through 5 innings when leadoff hitter Neubart bunted down the third-base line. Indians third baseman William Roland fielded the ball instead of seeing if it might roll foul. Neubart beat Roland’s throw to first.
“The guy (Neubart) can run, so you take your chances,” said Indians manager Al Pedrique of Roland’s play.
Pena tried to follow suit, but his bunt went right back to Prihoda for an easy second out.
“I think (Pena) was looking for a hit,” Feuerstein said. “It’s a different game when it’s first and second (base) with one out.”
It turned out to be a different game, anyway. Whitley, who missed the first two games with back spasms, squibbed a doubled to right, just past diving first baseman James Vida. Feuerstein worked the count to 1-1 before depositing a changeup to leftcenter, about 375 feet.
The stiff wind was definitely a factor.
“I thought the ball I hit earlier (in the fourth) had a better shot at carrying,” said Feuerstein, the team leader with three homers. “But on the homer ball, I caught it on the upswing.”
Portland relievers Heath Bost, James Kammerer and Chris Macca - who earned his team-high fourth save - breezed through the eighth and ninth.
“With our relievers, you know if they have two innings left they’ll throw two shutout innings,” Randall said.
“We got two runs early in the game and didn’t do anything else,” Pedrique said. “You’re not going to win a lot of games with four hits.”
Four singles, at that. One came from Vida, who extended his hitting streak to 16 games in the fifth. On Vida’s single, Tony Miranda attempted to score from second. Right fielder Elvis Jimenez nailed Miranda at the plate to end the inning.
“Every time I have a guy at second base with two outs, he’s gotta go,” Pedrique said. “The guy (Jimenez) just made a perfect throw.”
Walks and errors led to Spokane’s runs. Dwayne Lewis walked to lead off the first, was balked to second, stole third then scored when catcher Blake Barthol’s throw to third skipped into left. Leon Weathersby led off the third with a walk, made third when Randall threw high to second on a Lewis grounder, then scored on Patrick Hallmark’s single.
Marc D’Allessandro (7-0, 2.32), tied for the league lead in wins, is scheduled to start for Portland in tonight’s 7:05 game. Allen Sanders (1-3) starts for Spokane.
Spokane designated hitter Mark Quinn (broken finger) made his first start since June 20. Quinn went 0 for 4 and struck out twice… . Indians infielder Emiliano Escandon (strained elbow) had his first at-bat since July 1. Escandon, pinch-hitting in the seventh, struck out.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: ON DECK The Indians host Portland tonight at 7:05
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