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Spokane bats show no pop

Tri-City’s Hungerman checks Indians on 2 hits

PASCO – The Spokane Indians’ bats have gone silent with postseason on the horizon.

Josh Hungerman (5-4, 2.18 earned-run average) pitched eight scoreless innings, allowing two hits and striking out 10, as the Tri-City Dust Devils defeated Spokane 4-2 on Friday to open the final series of the Northwest League regular season.

The teams will continue the series tonight and Sunday at Gesa Stadium. The Dust Devils’ season will then be completed, but Spokane has qualified for the East divisional playoffs by winning the first-half title.

The Indians, blanked by Boise 1-0 on Thursday night, broke through with two runs in the ninth inning after their scoreless streak reached 18 innings. Spokane drew three walks in the inning against reliever Bradley McAtee, including Brett Nicholas’ RBI walk.

Indians starter Nicholas McBride warmed up for the playoffs with five shutout innings. Tim Steggall (3-2) relieved in the sixth and gave up three hits and four runs, all of which were unearned.

Spokane and T-C have split 10 games this season.

The Indians are 41-33 overall but just 14-22 on the road.

Spokane opens the playoffs at 7:05 p.m. Monday at Yakima, which won the East second-half title.

The second game in the best-of-3 series is set for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Avista Stadium. A third game, if necessary, would be at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.

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Baseball players in minors to lose minimum wage protection

UPDATED: 11:53 a.m.

Minor league baseball players who make as little as $5,500 a season stripped of the protection of federal minimum wage laws under a provision in government spending legislation. The provision appears to pre-empt a lawsuit filed four years ago by three players alleging Major League Baseball and its teams violate the Fair Labor Standards Act and state minimum wage and overtime requirements for a work week they estimated at 50-to-60 hours.