PORTLAND – When he is on his game, Yamaico Navarro has as much skill on this prospect-rich Portland Sea Dogs team as anyone.

He was on his game Saturday night before 6,238 at Hadlock Field.

Navarro stroked two home runs and a single for four RBI, leading the Sea Dogs to an 11-5 win over the Akron Aeros. Luis Exposito also hit a home run.

Navarro, 22, is now batting .276. But in the last 19 games, Navarro is hitting .348 (23 for 66) with five home runs and 16 RBI.

“I’ve tried to stay back (in the box) and see the ball (better) and make good contact,” Navarro said.

Navarro had moved from shortstop to third base this year with the addition of Jose Iglesias. But with Iglesias out with a bruised hand, Navarro has been back at shortstop. At either position, Navarro shows the ability that prompted the Red Sox to invite him to major- league spring training camp last February.

He batted .185 in 39 games here last year and was slow starting this season. But he appears to be turning it on now.

“A talented kid,” Portland Manager Arnie Beyeler said. “He has all kinds of ability. We’re just trying to get that consistency to play a little more often.”

Navarro’s first home run was a solo shot in the second inning, over the clock atop the message board in left center. His two-run homer in the third sailed over the left field wall, capping a four-run inning.

The homers were part of a 15-hit night for the Sea Dogs (36-31), backing up winning pitcher Stephen Fife (4-1).

Fife began the game in trouble, allowing a walk and two doubles, leading to a 3-0 deficit.

“I was so-so in the pen and my rhythm was not real good,” Fife said. “After the second double Expo (Exposito, the catcher) came out and said ‘stop being so fine and just pitch.’ “

Fife settled down. He located his fastball low and on the corners, missing on off-speed pitches. Fife lasted a season-high seven innings (four hits, four earned runs, three walks and six strikeouts). His ERA sits at 3.86.

Santo Luis relieved with two scoreless innings, lowering his ERA to 2.94.

Besides Navarro, Portland’s offense was paced by Exposito (homer, double, single, two RBI), Nate Spears (triple, two singles) and Che-Hsuan Lin (two RBI).

Exposito hit his fourth homer of the year in the eighth, a rising line drive over the left-field wall.

 

NOTES: Navarro became the first Portland player to homer twice in a game since Jon Still in July 2009. The last Sea Dogs player to do it at Hadlock Field was Josh Reddick, also last July. … Akron’s first reliever, Bryan Price, was a Red Sox supplemental first-round draft pick in 2008 (15 picks after Casey Kelly). He was one of the three players traded to Cleveland in the Victor Martinez deal last year. … The Sea Dogs will be wearing unique blue jerseys today as part of Prostate Cancer Awareness Day.

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

[email protected]