A winning streak often lasts only long enough for a team to run into a hot pitcher.
For the Spokane Indians, that was two games.
Their modest winning skein ended Sunday night, snapped abruptly by Everett AquaSox pitcher Chris Kirkland.
The 6-foot-4 right-hander raised his record to 2-1 and lowered his earned run average to 2.50 by handcuffing Spokane over seven innings in Everett’s 8-2 victory before 3,270 at Avista Stadium.
“He pitched great,” Spokane manager Tim Hulett said. “He threw a hard sinker and went right after us too. He didn’t get behind a lot of hitters and made it tough.”
Kirkland wasn’t overpowering, but he mixed his speeds and kept Spokane off-balance and off the scoreboard until Danny Lima’s RBI single in the sixth – one of the second baseman’s three hits.
But by then the AquaSox had put seven on the board.
Kirkland’s final line included 94 pitches, four hits, one run, eight strikeouts and no walks.
Spokane starter Trevor Hurley (1-2) matched Kirkland for a while but the Indians’ right-hander wasn’t nearly as efficient. He kept walking up the edge but not falling in, until the game was decided in the sixth.
“He actually pitched pretty well,” Hulett said.
The AquaSox (19-10) opened the scoring in the first after Hurley retired the first two hitters on four pitches.
But Mario Martinez reached when second baseman Lima couldn’t make the play on his slow roller just past the mound. Gerardo Avila followed with a broken bat dunker to center and, a walk later, James Jones delivered a two-run single past a diving Tommy Mendonca at third.
Hurley kept the score 2-0 until the sixth. That’s when his own wildness and the Spokane (11-18) defense let him down.
A walk and an infield single put runners at first and second to open the inning.
Jose Rivero squared to bunt and the ball either hit the bat (umpire Shaun Lampe’s view) or hit Rivero’s hand (Everett manager John Tamargo’s view). Lampe’s view prevailed. Tamargo argued and was ejected. Then he really got going, getting into Lampe’s face.
Finally Tamargo retreated to the clubhouse and Everett got back to breaking the game open.
Though Rivero couldn’t get the bunt down, Spokane catcher Alberto Puello moved the runners up by throwing a pickoff attempt at first into right field. After Rivero grounded out, a walk loaded the bases.
Hurley struck out Anthony Phillips but lead-off hitter Ryan Royster ground a single to right just out of Lima’s reach and it was 4-0.
“He bounces that to somebody and it’s a great start,” Hulett said.
But Hurley’s start was over and in came former starter Ben Henry. Before Henry, winless in his five starts with an 8.20 earned-run average, could get the final out of the inning the AquaSox had stretched the lead to 7-0.
Royster lined an eighth-inning solo home run to cap Everett’s scoring. The Indians tacked on a run in the ninth.
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