PORTLAND – It was an anticipated pitchers’ duel. So naturally, the Portland Sea Dogs and New Britain Rock Cats combined for 22 hits and 16 runs.

New Britain starter and Twins prospect Kyle Gibson did fine, but Portland pounced on the Rock Cats’ bullpen for four home runs to earn a 10-6 comeback victory Monday afternoon, before 6,663 At Hadlock Field.

Ryan Kalish didn’t hit any of the home runs, but he got the best news later when he was promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket.

Kalish, 22, went 2 for 4 and scored three runs. He sizzled in the last three games (9 for 13) and raised his average to .293, with eight home runs and 29 RBI.

The Sea Dogs did not announce Kalish’s replacement, but the Providence Journal reported that utility player Ryan Khoury is being sent from Pawtucket to the Sea Dogs.

Kalish is the third Sea Dog promoted to Triple-A this season, following first baseman Lars Anderson and starting pitcher Felix Doubront.

Portland still has plenty of prospects, including first baseman Anthony Rizzo, whose three-run homer highlighted a six-run seventh inning.

Down 6-2, the Sea Dogs hit three homers in the seventh, by Nate Spears, Rizzo and Yamaico Navarro.

Luis Exposito added a two-run homer in the eighth, his first long ball since the season opener.

Spears’ blast was a solo shot that sailed over the bullpen in right field. Spears then watched the rally build steam.

“It was a fun win,” Spears said.

The rally got Casey Kelly off the hook. Kelly, the top pitching prospect for the Boston Red Sox, had an up and down game, allowing six runs on 10 hits in four-plus innings.

After retiring the side on eight pitches in the first inning, Kelly needed 40 pitches to get out of the second. New Britain reeled off six straight hits for five runs.

Kelly allowed one harmless hit in each of the third and fourth innings. He gave up a triple and single to begin the fifth and left the game.

“I got ahead of a lot of hitters today,” Kelly said. “That’s a positive I’ll take out of it.

“I had a lot of 0-1, 0-2 counts and let them off the hook. I felt good out there today. Fastball was good. Had a good curveball and good change-up. One of those days where they hit it where we weren’t.”

Tommy Hottovy (3-0), who may force his own promotion soon, pitched three innings of no-hit relief for the win. Santo Luis allowed one hit over the last two innings, earning his first save.

Portland scored on Exposito’s RBI double in the first and Rizzo’s RBI single in the third.

In the seventh, Rizzo hit his homer with one out. With two outs, Kalish doubled, Exposito walked and Rizzo ripped a slider, hitting the video board in right field. After Ray Chang drew a walk, Navarro hit an opposite-field blast, reaching the first row of the right-field pavilion.

Exposito’s homer cleared the left-field wall.

Exposito has a team-leading 35 RBI. Rizzo, who was 3 for 5, is batting .290.

 

NOTES: Khoury, 26, played the past two seasons in Portland. He batted .244 in 17 games with Pawtucket. Outfielder Che-Hsuan Lin left the game in the second inning with a sore back. His injury shortens the Portland bench even more. Shortstop Jose Iglesias (bruised hand) still appears several days away from playing. … The Sea Dogs (26-23) left after the game for Trenton, N.J., for a three-game series with the Thunder. … Trenton (29-21) is in second place in the Eastern League’s Eastern Division after a 3-0 loss to first place New Hampshire (32-20) on Monday. … With Stephen Fife on the disabled list, the Sea Dogs are expected to receive a new pitcher to start today’s game. … After a schedule night game Thursday in Trenton, the Sea Dogs bus back to Portland for a weekend series against Reading. On Friday, the team’s will complete a suspended game at 6 p.m., then play a nine-inning game.

 

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at: [email protected]