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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Fog 35° Fog

Eighth charm again

Manager Tim Hulett suggested it himself: if only the Indians could start every game under the lights.

For the third night in a row, the Spokane Indians rallied in the eighth inning and overcame a deficit en route to victory – this time a 5-4 win over the Vancouver Canadians in front of 3,653 fans in Northwest League play on Monday night at Avista Stadium.

“I don’t know what it is, but I hope we keep doing it,” said Hulett. “I think part of it is the guys like playing at night. It gets dark and all the sudden the bats come alive, so maybe we need to start our games later.”

Spokane’s Steve Marquardt got the late rally going for the Indians (7-7) with a lead-off single in the bottom of the eighth. Catcher Chris Gradoville followed with a single to left before Justin Friend struck out Ronnie Anderson for the first out.

Andres James reached first on an infield single to load the bases for Renny Osuna, who reached on a fielder’s choice that forced James at second. Osuna was safe at first and Marquardt and pinch-runner Luke Salas scored when second baseman Carlos Arrieche threw the ball away trying to turn a double play, tying the score at 4-4. Osuna stole second on the next play and scored the winning run on a Victor Barrios double to deep center.

Osuna was 1 for 5 on the night and leads the Indians at the plate with a .319 average.

“We have three on base, so I have to put the ball in play,” said Osuna, a native of Venezuela. “In this situation I just had to try and make contact and just see what happens – it’s a situation where when you get an at-bat, it’s for the game.

“I never thought we were going to lose.”

Spokane’s pitching staff combined for 10 strikeouts and allowed nine hits in the outing. Indians’ newcomer Anton Maxwell went in for one inning of work in the eighth, allowing one hit and striking out one.

“It’s great, this is the first time I got to see the yard and it’s a beautiful place with awesome fans” said Maxwell, who signed with the Texas Rangers organization less than a week ago and earned the victory – something Maxwell is familiar with – in his Indians debut on Monday.

The lefty is coming off of back-to-back national titles with Oregon State, where he finished with a career ERA of 4.64 and a 14-4 record. A Pac-10 Conference honorable mention in 2005, Maxwell collected 90 strikeouts in his four-year career with the Beavers.

“I guess that gives him some good experience, doesn’t it?” Hulett joked. “I hope he can get a third one right here, we can get a championship for him here too.”

Ian Gac homered in the second, a deep solo shot to left, to put the Indians on the scoreboard first. Gac is now tied with Everett’s Gregory Halman for second in the league with four homers.

“I’m just seeing the ball really well and I’ve been working on my swing with coach,” said Gac, who is quickly establishing himself as the Indians’ long-ball king.

Hulett said he is pleased with the bats, but addressed the 11 runners left on base.

“The last few games, we’ve started swinging it pretty good,” he said, “but we’re still leaving a lot of guys on base – we’d like to hit a little better with guys on base, but we’re getting them there so that’s giving us the opportunity.”

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