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09/07/2007 3:51 AM ET
Dust Devils take series opener
Chambliss escapes ninth-inning jam, preserves 3-2 win
Lars Davis came through in Game 1 after going hitless in his last 10 regular-season at-bats. (Patrick Ostrander/MLB.com)

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The Tri-City Dust Devils are using their underdog status as motivation in the Northwest League Championship Series.

Robinson Fabian pitched 7 1/3 solid innings Thursday as the Dust Devils took Game 1 of the best-of-5 series with a 3-2 victory over the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes.

"No matter what people say, we're the underdogs," Tri-City manager Freddie Ocasio said as his team pulled out its first-ever playoff win after capturing the East Division crown with an underwhelming 37-39 record.

Fabian (1-0) allowed two runs on four hits and three walks with four strikeouts before closer Riquy Pena made things interesting in the ninth. He walked Andrew D'Alessio and Garrett Baker to start the inning before Ocasio called for Austin Chambliss, who walked Andrew Davis to load the bases.

But Chambliss bounced back quickly, fanning Chad Rothford and pinch-hitter Tyler La Torre before getting Jose Flores to ground out for his first postseason save.

"That was unbelievable," Ocasio said. "We got into the playoffs, but we lost a lot of games late in the season in the eighth or ninth inning. It was like, 'Is it going to happen again?' I went from [ticked] off to -- five minutes later -- being the happiest person on the planet once they got that ground ball to first."

The Volcanoes, who put together a league-best 57-19 mark in the regular season, opened the scoring on D'Alessio's RBI double in the first.

The Dust Devils answered in the fifth as Lars Davis drilled a two-run single and scored on second baseman Brock Bonds' error for a 3-1 lead.

Bonds stroked an RBI single in the eighth to cap the scoring.

Salem-Keizer starter Thomas Brewer (0-1) gave up three runs -- two earned -- on five hits and two walks with one strikeout in 3 2/3 innings.

The Volcanoes will try to even the series Friday at Tri-City before heading home for Game 3.

"They won 57 games for a reason," Ocasio insisted. "They were not given to them. They've got a lot of good hitters and a good pitching staff. To come out and beat a team that won 57 games in the first game of the championship is good."

Tim Leonard is a contributor to MLB.com.s This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.