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Spokane Indians end losing streak with shutout

The Spokane Indians have had their egos bruised a bit this week.

Emerson Martinez helped change that Saturday night by absorbing a physical blow instead.

Martinez (4-3) pitched two-hit shutout ball for five innings as the Indians finally broke through against the Eugene Emeralds with a 4-0 Northwest League win at Avista Stadium that snapped a four-game losing skid.

Martinez, who also picked up wins in his last two appearances, was cruising along with a one-hitter when Blake Headley led off the fifth with a comebacker that struck the Indians right-hander in the lowest-right rib. Martinez picked up the ball, threw to first for the out and waited for Indians staff to attend to him.

Following a few warm-up pitches, Martinez stayed in the game and wriggled out of trouble after two Emeralds reached base.

“It hurts, but not too much,” Martinez said. “I was hurt and I felt like I couldn’t breathe, but when I saw the guy running I thought, ‘I have to make a play. I have to make a play.’ ”

“We wanted to get him that five innings (to qualify for a win) and he seemed like he wanted that five innings,” Indians manager Tim Hulett said.

Nick Green worked three innings of two-hit ball and Jeffrey Springs pitched the ninth to polish off Spokane’s fifth shutout of the season.

Spokane (2-4 second half) had been outscored 17-7 by Eugene during the first three games of the five-game series.

This time, Spokane collected 12 hits and hit three balls deep to the outfield.

“The guys were much better at shortening their swings early in the count and I think it paid off for them tonight,” Hulett said.

Five Indians finished with multiple hits, led by Todd McDonald’s three. The Indians designated hitter boosted his batting average from .182 to .229 and ignited Spokane’s two-run second with an RBI double into the right-field corner.

“You know, it’s good to see him have a night like that, especially after last night,” Hulett said. “Guys have bad nights and sometimes we forget how tough this game is. So it’s good to see him come back. It showed a lot on his part.”

Indians center fielder LeDarious Clark couldn’t break out of his slump, which is now at 2 for 34, despite three hard outs.

“He could have had three hits tonight,” Hulett said. “Instead, he didn’t get any. But early in his (hot) streak he hit some balls that got in the gaps, so this game finds a way of evening out. We’re ready for him to get on another (positive) streak, but he’ll be all right. He can do a lot of things.”

Eugene dropped to 4-2 for the second half. Spokane is 9-11 at home and 15-14 against South Division teams such as the Emeralds.

The Indians had their second consecutive sold-out game. Attendance was 7,046.

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