BINGHAMTON, N.Y. – Chih-Hsien Chiang and Ryan Lavarnway sent homers down opposite lines in consecutive innings Monday night to get the Portland Sea Dogs’ road trip off to a positive start.
Chiang hit a grand slam down the right-field line and Lavarnaway followed with a towering blast down the left-field line to send the Sea Dogs on their way to an 8-4 Eastern League victory over the Binghamton Mets.
Left-hander Robert Carson had retired eight straight and had just picked up a 2-0 lead on a Raul Reyes homer when the Sea Dogs put the first six men on in the fourth and first three in the fifth to knock Carson from the game.
“We got a couple of big hits,” Sea Dogs Manager Arnie Beyeler said. “The guy was throwing real well, then all of a sudden things kind of snowballed.”
Chiang, Lavarnway and Yamaico Navarro drove in all the runs in the fourth and fifth.
“Their starting pitcher did a great job for the first three innings,” Chiang said through coach Mickey Jiang, who served as interpreter. “With runners on base, especially in scoring position, a pitcher sometimes is trying to use a different approach.
“We were lucky to get guys on base, then load them to put it together and score six that inning.”
Navarro doubled in two runs to tie it and the Sea Dogs went on to bat around in the six-run fourth. Chiang’s line drive on a 1-0 pitch had just enough to clear the fence near the foul pole.
“There’s nothing different,” Chiang said of the bases-loaded at-bat that produced his first grand slam since middle school in Taiwan. “I’m just trying to drive a ball that I can handle and score some runs.”
Chiang scored four in one shot. Lavarnaway added two more for an 8-2 lead. He blasted a 2-1 drive into the rail yard beyond the visitors’ bullpen.
The offensive outburst combined with timely pitching efforts by Blake Maxwell and Ryne Lawson to give the Sea Dogs their sixth straight road victory for the first time since late 2007. The team just left Portland, where it lost the last three games of a homestand.
Maxwell went five innings for his first win and Lawson worked four for his first save.
Maxwell was making his first start, after 29 relief appearances with three teams, in place of Casey Kelly.
Kelly was placed on the disabled list Monday, retroactive to Saturday, with a finger blister. Beyeler said he should be ready for his next turn in the rotation.
Maxwell and Lawson made sure it did not matter Monday.
“They finished the whole game,” Beyeler said. “You’re hoping to get three, four or five out of each, then see where you end up. We couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Maxwell made 18 starts for the Sea Dogs last season. He won his first decision this year by giving up two runs on three hits and a walk while striking out five in five innings. Maxwell finished strong, retiring seven of the last eight batters.
Lawson took over and was not exactly thinking save.
“I was thinking to probably go out and last two or three and then they’d use one of our late-inning guys,” Lawson said after holding the Mets hitless in the eighth and ninth to finish a four-inning outing in which he allowed two runs on four hits and three walks while striking out two. “When you have to use a reliever to start a game, you know they’re going to stretch us out a little bit.
“You don’t want to start going through a lot of guys.”