TRENTON, N.J. — Portland got all it could have expected from one reliever, but less than it hoped for from another.

Trenton, helped by two Portland errors, scored three runs off reliever Eammon Portice in the sixth inning after the Sea Dogs had gotten an outstanding spot start from relief pitcher Jeremy Kehrt, and the Thunder defeated Portland 6-2 Tuesday night at Waterfront Park.

Kehrt, replacing injured right-hander Stephen Fife (seven-day DL, bruised foot), was strong for the Sea Dogs, allowing one run on two hits while matching a season high with five innings – in just his second Double-A appearance.

Kehrt, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound right-hander who was 3-1 with a 3.65 ERA in 11 appearances (two starts) for Class A Salem this season, left with a 2-1 lead after striking out five and walking one.

But Portice, in his 14th appearance with Portland, came on and struggled for the second straight game, allowing five runs (three earned) in 12/3 innings.

Coming off arguably his worst outing of the season when he gave up three runs in two innings during Saturday’s 11-3 win over New Britain, Portice replaced Kehrt and promptly surrendered three hard-hit singles to open the sixth, the last by Austin Krum to drive in Justin Snyder and tie the game at 2.

Portice recovered to strike out Austin Romine and had Brandon Laird in an 0-2 hole when catcher Juan Apodaca bounced a throw to first trying to pick off Krum.

The throw went into right field, advancing both runners. Laird then hit a weak grounder to third and Ray Chang, after making a nice diving stop, threw from his backside past first baseman Anthony Rizzo, allowing Justin Christian and Krum to score and giving Trenton a 4-2 advantage.

“Defensively, we didn’t do a very good job and they took advantage of it,” Portland Manager Arnie Beyeler said. “It all kind of snowballed for us right there.

“When you’re playing good teams, you can’t be giving them extra outs.”

Beyeler didn’t second-guess Apodaca’s throw, but said: “When you gamble on a play like that, you have to make a good throw. If you don’t, it turns into a circus.”

The Thunder got two more off Portice in the seventh, both of those earned. But by then,  the damage had been done, ruining a strong effort by Kehrt.

“He was attacking the strike zone,” Beyeler said of Kehrt. “He was working ahead and it was making his other stuff that much better.”

Kehrt has alternated as a reliever and starter during his two-year professional career, but he seems to be earmarked as a reliever. However, he said he is comfortable in either role.

“Whatever they have me do, I’m ready to go,” said Kehrt. “I’ll stick with what I am doing and try to do the same thing next game.”

NOTES:
In his only other Double-A appearance, Kehrt started in the second game of a doubleheader on May 22, taking the loss in Trenton’s 3-2 win after allowing three runs on six hits in five innings. … Beyeler said Che-Hsuan Lin is “day-to-day” with back spasms after leaving Monday’s game with the injury. …
Ryan Khoury replaced Lin in the lineup, batting second and making his first-ever start in right field, going 1 for 4 with a run scored. Khoury, who spent 2008 and ’09 with the Sea Dogs, was sent down from Triple-A Pawtucket after hitting .244 in 17 games.