PORTLAND – Portland Sea Dogs starter Stephen Fife did not have his best stuff, but he drew praise from his manager.

Chih-Hsien Chiang has scuffled most of the season, but he’s hoping one hit will make all the difference.

Luis Exposito was batting .182 before this homestand; now he’ll hit the road with his average 107 points higher.

There is so much failure and success in the minor leagues. When you can turn the former into the latter, you have reason to smile.

The grins on Thursday belonged to the Sea Dogs after they overcame a four-run deficit to beat the Reading Phillies 7-6 in the finale of a six-game homestand.

Che-Hsuan Lin delivered the winning run with a bases-loaded walk in the eighth inning.

Exposito (two-run double), Ryan Kalish (two-run single) and Chiang (game-tying RBI double) also had big hits.

“The guys hung in there and played nine innings,” Beyeler said.

Fife put Portland in a hole, allowing five runs on eight hits and a walk over four innings. But by lasting four innings, he allowed Beyeler to line up his bullpen.

“It’s nice for pitchers to have their good stuff every time they go out,” Beyeler said. “But it was evident he was going to have to work hard, and he battled to get through four innings and keep us in the ballgame.”

It was only the first time Fife has allowed more than two earned runs, and his ERA jumped to 4.07.

The Sea Dogs took a 2-0 lead in the first inning on Exposito’s two-run double along the right-field line.

Exposito went 3 for 3 with two walks. He batted .571 (12 for 21) with five doubles, a triple and nine RBI on the homestand.

“I’m just relaxed,” Exposito said. “I’m working hard before the game and taking that work into the game.”

Reliever Tommy Hottovy (3.12 ERA) pitched two innings and almost escaped a jam until back-to-back doubles with two outs in the sixth made it 6-2.

Santo Luis (1-0) relieved Hottovy and had his best outing since joining the organization from the Chicago White Sox in mid-April, going two innings with one hit and two strikeouts.

Reading used six relievers, including three in the sixth inning when Portland scored three runs on Ray Chang’s bases-loaded walk and Kalish’s two-run single on a liner to right field.

Portland tied it in the seventh. Jose Iglesias doubled and scored on Chiang’s double, only his ninth hit of the season.

“That may be my best game of the season. I felt awesome at bat,” Chiang said through an interpreter.

Might that key a turnaround? Chiang smiled as the question was relayed to him.

“Hopefully,” he said.

In the eighth inning, Reading’s fifth reliever, Sergio Escalona (0-2), gave up singles to Kalish and Exposito followed by walks to Yamaico Navarro and Lin to put Portland up, 7-6.

Jason Price relieved for Portland in the ninth and promptly yielded a single to Tyson Gillies. But he got Domonic Brown to line out to left and struck out Tagg Bozied.

After a walk put runners on first and second, Price got ahead of Kevin Mahar on two called strikes.

Bozied, who had argued strike calls during his at-bat, charged out of the dugout to argue the calls against Mahar and immediately was tossed by home-plate umpire Scott Mahoney.

Price struck out Mahar on the next pitch, recording his fourth save.

Portland (14-11) went 4-2 on the homestand. Reading dropped to 10-15.

 

NOTES: The game began 32 minutes late because of the wet weather. The paid attendance was 3,317. The Sea Dogs return to Hadlock Field Monday for a series against Binghamton.

 

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or at:

[email protected]