Winless on the road, the Spokane Indians can’t catch a break away from Avista Stadium.
They’ve recently been charmed at home, though.
The Indians took advantage of a wild pitcher and a run from an error, and rode the arm of right-hander Seth Nordlin to edge the Eugene Emeralds 4-3 on Saturday, their third win in Spokane in four nights.
Back-to-back solo home runs by Francisco Ventura and Tanner Gardner in the fifth inning were a boon, but it was 6 1/3 innings of Nordlin that handcuffed the Emeralds (10-19), the last-place club in the Northwest League’s South Division.
Nordlin, who threw five shutout frames, struck out seven, yielded one run and six hits, and didn’t walk a batter.
“Fastball command, that was our goal all night,” said Nordlin (2-1). “Attacking the hitters and not giving them free bases. I had a really rough start last week, so to come back like this feels good.”
The Indians (11-18), last in the North Division, improved to 11-7 at home.
Spokane faced two of the better arms in the Chicago Cubs’ minor league system and had mixed results. Starting pitcher Paul Richan, a second-round draft pick in June, struck out three, walked one and allowed no runs in two innings of work.
Reliever Jose Albertos (0-3), the Cubs’ fourth-ranked prospect, had trouble with his control and the Indians cashed in.
Albertos walked five in 1 1/3 innings. With the bases loaded in the third, Albertos walked Ventura for the Indians’ initial run. In the fourth, an errant throw by Emeralds catcher Jonathan Soto scored Austin O’Banion, giving Spokane a 2-0 cushion.
Ventura and Gardner’s solo blasts in the fifth doubled the lead.
Gustavo Polanco homered in the sixth to get the Emeralds on the board. Eugene tacked on a pair of runs in the eighth in a late rally attempt.
“Their starter was pretty good,” Indians manager Kenny Holmberg said. “Hitting is hard, especially against guys like that. It challenged you to play a better brand of baseball and put the ball in play.”
Indians closer Sean Chandler shut the door in the ninth with the help of fine plays by first baseman Gardner and second baseman Troy Dixon.
“Those were some big-time plays,” Nordlin said.
Eugene issued 10 walks and the Indians left 11 runners on base.
“There could have been more of a cushion. There were two letdowns on defense,” Holmberg said. “But Seth pitched a great ballgame and Chandler was pounding the zone.”
Subscribe to The Spokesman-Review's sports newsletter
Get the day's top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.