MANCHESTER, N.H. – The Portland Sea Dogs finally return to Hadlock Field tonight for the start of a four-game series with Harrisburg.
The only downer is Casey Kelly won’t be pitching.
Kelly, 20, continues to show the form that the Boston Red Sox dreamed of when they drafted him in the first round in 2008.
Kelly (3-4) picked up his second win in three starts, holding the New Hampshire Fisher Cats to one run over six innings in a 5-1 victory on Wednesday night before 7,644 at Merchantsauto.com Stadium.
The Sea Dogs (49-48) will come back to Hadlock with a five-game winning streak.
Portland’s playoff hopes are still realistic, trailing first-place Trenton by eight games and second-place New Hampshire by 71/2.
With a lineup bolstered by the promotion of catcher/designated hitter Ryan Lavarnway, the Sea Dogs swept New Hampshire.
Lavarnway, batting .409 with 11 RBI in six games, went 2 for 4, knocking in two runs.
Left fielder Jorge Padron, another addition since the All-Star break, went 1 for 4 with an RBI. He’s batting .304.
Luis Exposito and Anthony Rizzo doubled and scored. Che-Hsuan Lin tripled and scored.
The infield clicked with third baseman Ray Chang, shortstop Yamaico Navarro and second baseman Nate Spears all turning in gems, Chang and Navarro making strong throws from the hole, and Spears starting a rally-killing double play.
But the story was Kelly, who is putting up numbers to match his promise and development.
Since giving up six runs to New Hampshire on July 6, Kelly has allowed two runs or less in three starts. His ERA is down to 4.85.
“He was fun to watch,” Portland Manager Arnie Beyeler said. “Kept getting better as he went.”
Kelly threw 86 pitches, 61 for strikes.
“I got up there and executed the game plan,” Kelly said. “Established the fastball and let the off-speed stuff dictate itself.”
Kelly was cruising with a 4-0 lead in the fourth when he delivered a hanging curveball to major leaguer Travis Snider, who crushed it for a home run.
In the fifth, an infield single and walk put two runners on. Snider came up with two outs.
Snider took a change-up for a strike, foul-tipped a fastball, watched a waste pitch for a ball, then struck out swinging on a diving change-up.
“I wanted to face him again,” Kelly said. “I saw he was coming up, kind of like a mano-a-mano thing. I got him on a good change-up down in the zone.”
The Sea Dogs got to New Hampshire starter Jo-Jo Reyes for four runs over six innings. Reyes, the former major league pitcher for Atlanta, was acquired by the Blue Jays in the Alex Gonzalez trade last week and assigned to the Fisher Cats.
“We got after a pretty good pitcher tonight,” Beyeler said. “He had pretty good stuff and the guys put together some good at-bats.”
Blake Maxwell, who pitched all last year with Portland and began this season in advanced Class A, is back. He pitched two scoreless innings.
NOTES: Tonight’s home game features an Adrian Gonzalez bobblehead giveaway to the first 1,000 fans. … The Sea Dogs don’t return to Manchester until Aug. 26. They host the Fisher Cats on the last weekend, Sept. 3-6.
Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or at: