PORTLAND – Blake Maxwell is a bullpen guy, a relief pitcher. That’s why he sprints from the bullpen, even when he starts.

Saturday night, Maxwell started and gave the Portland Sea Dogs a strong five innings in a 9-6 victory over the Richmond Flying Squirrels that snapped a three-game losing streak before 7,160 at Hadlock Field.

The Sea Dogs had 14 hits and scored seven runs in the first two innings, two on a first-inning home run by Ray Chang, three on a bases-loaded double by Luis Exposito in the second.

“It’s always good when we get a victory and you see guys getting hits,” said Exposito, who leads the Sea Dogs with 78 RBI. “Everybody’s feeling happy. The whole team is feeling good. Everyone did a good job. Blake did an awesome job, the bullpen did an awesome job holding them. Everybody feels good.”

Maxwell (3-0) gave up single runs in the first and second. But after his teammates gave him four runs in the bottom of the second to make it 7-2, he buckled down.

“I made a decision to stop letting them score,” he said. “I threw more of a mix (in the last three innings). I mixed in my slider and change-up more. I didn’t use them much in the first two innings and I was able to keep the ball down. I was a little amped up at the beginning so I was able to calm down and locate pitches down in the zone.”

That’s important because Maxwell treats every appearance like a relief appearance. He worked out with all the players — as usual — before the game. He didn’t start warming up until 15 minutes before the game. And he sprinted to the mound from the bullpen in right field.

“I came in as a reliever at the beginning but I was pitching as a starter,” said Maxwell, who struck out four and walked one. “There’s that excitement that builds up knowing you’re going to pitch. But I was able to kind of back off from that and get it under control.”

Manager Arnie Beyeler knows he’s going to get Maxwell’s best, no matter the role.

“He takes the ball whenever we throw it his way,” said Beyeler. “He’s great like that. He gives you what he’s got every time out; that’s all you can ask for.”

Portland pounded Squirrels starter Clayton Tanner for eight runs (seven earned) and 11 hits in three innings. Then Chih-Hsien Chiang hit a solo home run in the fifth to make it 9-2.

Richmond scored four in the sixth before Ryne Reynoso came in with two scoreless innings and Jason Rice had a scoreless ninth for his 11th save.

“We spotted them too many (runs) too early,” said Andy Skeels, manager of the Flying Squirrels.

Reynoso’s two innings were vital because he took away Richmond’s momentum.

“I try not to even think about what the score is,” said Reynoso. “This relieving thing is still new to me so it helps me if I do that. It felt good tonight.”

NOTE: Chang has seven home runs since July 1. He has homered in back-to-back games. The Sea Dogs got three hits each from Ryan Khoury and Matt Sheely, their eighth and ninth hitters. Khoury scored twice and Sheely once. 

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

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