One good 1-0 game deserves another.
But this time, the Spokane Indians were on the positive side of the 1-0 outcome, thanks to stellar pitching from Richelson Pena, Erik Swanson and Adam Parks.
Pena (5-3) pitched six shutout innings and Josh Morgan drove in the lone run with a two-out single in the sixth inning as the Indians nipped Tri-City 1-0 at Avista Stadium on Saturday, one night after losing to the Dust Devils 1-0 at Pasco.
Pitching before a sellout crowd of 7,025, Pena lowered his earned-run average to 2.89 to outduel Helmis Rodriguez (3-7), who sports a 2.16 ERA despite leading the Northwest League in losses.
“I knew I was facing a tough guy, too,” Pena said through interpreter Jose Jaimes, the Indians’ pitching coach. “The game was tied through six innings, so I was trying to … keep the ballgame alive. I wouldn’t let anything beat me.”
The Indians (10-13 second half) closed within one game of Tri-City (11-12) and Vancouver for first place in the North Division. The North first-half champion Indians are 7-3 against Tri-City this season.
Pena faced his biggest challenge in the fourth when leadoff hitter Wilson Soriano reached third base with no outs on an infield single, stolen base and throwing error by Indians catcher Jose Trevino. Pena struck out Drew Weeks, Shane Hoelscher and Sean Dwyer to end the threat.
“I was trying to keep my pitches down in the zone,” Pena said. “I was trying to get a ground ball and mix my pitches a little more in that situation. Once I got the first strike, I was trying to get the strikeout.”
“We talk about, you can’t strike a guy out until you get two strikes and he made some quality pitches,” Indians manager Tim Hulett said. “He got the (first) strikeout and we moved the infield in and he made other good, quality pitches to the next hitters.”
Pena had just completed his night when Morgan lashed a 1-0 pitch to left field to score Trevino, who doubled to lead off the sixth and moved to third on a wild pitch.
Swanson relieved and immediately put Hoelscher on third and Dwyer on first after singles. Swanson responded by striking out Richard Prigatano and coaxing a 4-6-3 double play from Chris Rabago.
Swanson struck out the side in the eighth and Parks worked a 1-2-3 ninth to pick up his third save and lower his ERA to 1.86.
“We just haven’t had him in there as much as we’d like, but he’s done a great job of closing,” Hulett said of Parks.
Pepe Cardona (concussion) missed his third consecutive game from colliding with fellow Indians outfielder Luke Tendler during Wednesday’s game at Pasco. Cardona will miss at least seven days before he’s reevaluated, Hulett said. … Indians reliever Darrell Hunter, who suffered a seizure in the dugout during Wednesday’s game, is back to tossing and could return soon, Hulett said. … The team announced that playoff tickets have gone on sale. For more information, call the Indians ticket office (509-343-6886).