MANCHESTER, N.H. – Ryan Lavarnway watched bad pitches go by, just like the Boston Red Sox want their hitters to do.
Lavarnway walked twice and also worked a 3-1 count in the sixth inning.
“A selectively aggressive approach,” Lavarnway said. “If the first pitch is there, I’m going to swing at it. If not, I’ll wait for my pitch.”
And he certainly got his pitch.
New Hampshire Fisher Cats reliever Vince Bongiovanni delivered a 3-1 fastball across the plate and Lavarnway drilled it over the center-field wall 400 feet away for a three-run homer, breaking a 1-1 tie and propelling the Portland Sea Dogs to a 5-1 victory Friday night at Merchantsauto.com Stadium.
Chih-Hsien Chiang also homered in the ninth for the Sea Dogs.
The home runs, combined with New Hampshire’s squandered chances, helped Portland (62-69) snap a three-game losing streak.
Meanwhile, the Fisher Cats (75-56) kept their champagne corked. New Hampshire is one win (or a Reading Phillies loss) from clinching an Eastern League playoff spot. Reading beat Binghamton 9-1 Friday night.
Portland pitchers escaped a few jams as the Fisher Cats left the bases loaded four times. Sea Dogs starter Alex Wilson gave up four walks but allowed only one hit through four innings. He left after giving up a triple and RBI single in the fifth.
Mitch Herold (3-4), Ryne Lawson and Jason Rice combined to allow two hits, four walks and no runs over 42/3 innings.
Portland scored in the second on a walk, Juan Carlos Linares’ double and Nate Spears’ RBI groundout.
New Hampshire starter B.J. LaMura (5-6) walked six, including passes to Anthony Rizzo and Luis Exposito to begin the sixth. Bongiovanni came on and Lavarnway went deep.
Lavarnway, 23, has four home runs in the last five games.
“He’s been working with (hitting coach Dave Joppie) and has made some good adjustments,” Portland Manager Arnie Beyeler said.
“He’s getting better pitches to hit and the results are showing that. I’ve seen a couple of the longest home runs in the last couple days.”
Lavarnway is batting .285 with seven home runs and 29 RBI since coming to Portland July 15.
Including his time with Class A Salem, Lavarnway has 21 home runs, second in the Red Sox minor league organization to Anthony Rizzo’s 23. His combined 92 RBI tie Rizzo for first.
NOTES: Exposito hit into a bad-break double play in the third inning. With Rizzo on first base and attempting to steal second, Rizzo ripped a line drive up the middle, but second baseman Jonathan Diaz was moving over to cover second, snagged the line drive and then tagged out Rizzo.
Third baseman Ryan Khoury flipped over the Sea Dogs’ dugout railing trying to catch a foul ball in the seventh inning.
The paid attendance for the game was 5,992.
The Sea Dogs announced the newest members to their Hall of Fame: catcher Mike Redmond and former Eastern League president Bill Troubh. They will be inducted prior to Tuesday’s 7 p.m. game at Hadlock Field.
Redmond, who will not be at the ceremony, was with the Sea Dogs for three years (1995-96, ’98), reaching the majors later in the 1998 season.
Troubh, a former Portland City councilor, served as league president from 1997 to 2002.
Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at: firstname.lastname@example.org