PORTLAND – When Kyle Weiland was a 9-year-old in Albuquerque, N.M., he was a nationally ranked swimmer specializing in the butterfly.

Weiland uses a different kind of leg kick these days pitching for the Portland Sea Dogs.

Weiland, a 23-year-old right-hander, keeps his left leg straight when he winds up before delivering his variety of pitches, from a sinking fastball to a sweeping curve to a drop-dead change-up.

All three pitches were on for Weiland Saturday night as he had his finest outing as a pro, even though he didn’t get a win.

Closer Jason Rice (1-2) gave up two runs in the eighth as the Harrisburg Senators beat Portland 2-1 before 6,869 at Hadlock Field.

Weiland, a third-round draft pick for the Boston Red Sox in 2008 out of Notre Dame, allowed one hit in seven innings while striking out eight and walking none.

After giving up a first-inning double to Jesus Valdez, Weiland retired 15 straight before two infield errors put him in a jam in the sixth. He responded by retiring his last four batters, three by strikeout.

“Nice to see some swings out of guys because you know a pitch is on,” Weiland said.

“It was a good mix tonight. I was able to throw all three pitches for strikes and actually locate them where I wanted to.”

Weiland’s sinker produced its desired effect. Only four balls were hit to the outfield, three for outs, and he produced nine groundouts.

“He was throwing all his pitches for a strike, at any point in the count,” new Portland catcher Ryan Lavarnway said. “That gives us a lot of options, as far as pitch calling.

“His stuff was sharp tonight. I don’t think I’ve caught him since Lowell (in 2008). But when he has all three pitches working, it makes it easy to learn him again real quick.”

Weiland, 6-foot-4, 195 pounds, was a closer for Notre Dame and may eventually return to the bullpen. He has a live arm and is a solid athlete, evidenced by his early swimming success.

“I didn’t like it,” Weiland said of his time in the pool. “I was good at it and people told me I had a better future in (swimming) than baseball.”

Weiland (5-5, 3.82 ERA) appeared in line for his sixth win Saturday. Portland took a 1-0 lead in the fourth on a double by Nate Spears followed by Anthony Rizzo’s opposite-field single to left-center.

Rice entered in the eighth and gave up a leadoff double. He retired the next two batters but loaded the bases with a hit batsman and a walk. Valdez then fell behind 0-2 and, after two foul balls, lined a single up the middle to drive in two.

Rice had not allowed a run in 17 of his previous 19 outings.

Portland threatened in the eighth on singles by Chih-Hsien Chiang and Che-Hsuan Lin with one out, but Spears and Yamaico Navarro lined out.

Harrisburg starter Andrew Kown (5-4) allowed five hits and one run in seven innings.

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

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