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Indians move into first place

No matter what Clark he calls upon to play first base, Spokane Indians manager Tim Hulett knows good things will happen. Clark Murphy, who shares time with Andrew Clark at first base, went 4 for 4 with four runs batted in Friday night to thrill a sellout crowd at Avista Stadium with a 9-5 comeback win over the Vancouver Canadians. The win, Spokane’s fourth straight in the five-game series that wraps up tonight, vaulted the Indians (15-12) into first place in the Northwest League’s East Division when Boise (15-13) lost to Salem-Keizer 3-2 in 11 innings. Murphy had an RBI single in the first inning, a sacrifice fly in the third, a leadoff single in the fifth, a two-run double during a five-run seventh and an infield single in the eighth. The season-high crowd of 6,845 enjoyed the fourth hit, which provided everyone with free pancakes in an IHOP promotion. Murphy had another motivation – a free steak dinner from batting coach Brian Dayette because of the four hits. “I’m pretty comfortable at the plate right now,” said Murphy, who boosted his batting average to .370 and has eight RBIs in the series. “The team’s winning, which makes it easier to be calm and collected.” “(Murphy and Clark) are really swinging the bats well, both of them,” said Hulett, who gave Clark a rare night off. “It doesn’t really matter who I put out there and usually I can have both of them in (one playing designated hitter).” Vancouver (12-16) finally thawed its offense, which had been held to 12 singles and one double during the first three games. But the Canadians didn’t make the most of their 14 hits, leaving 15 batters on base and hitting 3 for 21 with runners in scoring position. Their infield defense was also shaky again, committing three errors one night after making four. After Murphy’s double to left-center tied the game at 4 in the seventh, errors by second baseman Nino Leyja and third baseman Michael Fabiaschi kept the inning alive. Murphy scored the go-ahead run when Fabiaschi fell after fielding Santiago Chirino’s potential inning-ending grounder. Kevin Rodland followed with a two-run double to left. Spokane, 10-4 at home, leads the season series 5-4 despite dropping four of five in Canada in late June. “I know what Rick’s going through right now, because we went through it early in the season,” Hulett said of Vancouver manager Rick Magnante. Notes Spokane pitcher Zach Osborne underwent successful surgery Friday for facial injuries suffered during Thursday’s batting practice. Osborne, whose upper jaw was dislocated, could return in a couple of weeks. His mother, Dana, flew in from Houston to visit him at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center. Osborne was standing in right field when a batted ball hit him in the face. … Chirino, a 19-year-old infielder from Venezuela, was added to the Indians’ roster to replace Danny Lima (broken finger). Chirino led his Dominican Summer League team in RBIs last year. … Spokane’s July 25 home doubleheader against Tri-City will start at 5:30 p.m. The teams will play two seven-inning games. The doubleheader is necessary because of a June 20 rainout.

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