PORTLAND – Blake Maxwell and the Cuban connection.

Sounds like a story of international suspense.

Instead, it’s the tale of the Portland Sea Dogs Thursday night.

Maxwell (7-0) finished his 2010 season with a perfect record in Portland as the Sea Dogs beat the Binghamton Mets 5-3 at Hadlock Field.

Outfielders Juan Carlos Linares and Jorge Padron, two of the three Cubans on the Sea Dogs, drove in four of the runs. Linares hit a solo home run to center and an RBI double. Padron had a two-run double.

Maxwell threw 5 2/3 innings, scattering nine hits while allowing three runs. He reached a three-ball count only twice, walking one. He struck out four.

Maxwell, 26, did not join the Sea Dogs until July 15 but is tied for the team lead in wins.

Counting his wins with Class A Salem, Maxwell is 11-1, the most wins of any Red Sox minor league pitcher this year.

“It was a really good developmental year for me,” Maxwell said. “I was able to repeat my delivery as the year went on and keep the ball down more consistently.”

His most successful season comes after the disappointment of this spring, when he was sent to Class A Salem after pitching all of 2009 with the Sea Dogs.

“Nothing will surprise me (next spring),” Maxwell said. “When I show up, I’ll show up in the best shape I can be in and throw the ball.”

Maxwell, 6-foot-5, 255 pounds, uses a sidearm delivery with a fastball in the high 80s, a slider and a newly developed change-up. After Thursday’s effort, his ERA rose to 2.61.

“He came back here and hasn’t been hit hard since,” Portland Manager Arnie Beyeler said. “This one was probably one of his lesser games. He had to battle.”

But the Sea Dogs supported Maxwell with their bats, led by Linares, 25, and Padron, 24. Both signed with the Boston Red Sox this year and are in the shadow of touted Cuban shortstop Jose Iglesias.

But they are producing.

“Linares has got some bat speed. He doesn’t get beat with a fastball and he’s got some pop,” Beyeler said. “He can run and he has a pretty good arm.

“(Padron) is not flashy, but you look down at the score sheet and he has two or three hits. He doesn’t drive a lot of balls, but he will as he gets his legs underneath him.”

Padron is batting .288 in 44 games, Linares .229 in 10 games.

Iglesias also contributed with two singles and a strong throw home in the third inning. Josh Satin tried to score from first on a double, but Iglesias relayed Che-Hsuan Lin’s throw from center to catcher Ryan Lavarnway for the out.

Nate Spears went 2 for 3 with an RBI and scored his 97th run, seven shy of Ralph Milliard’s team record.

Dan Turpen relieved Maxwell with 21/3 scoreless innings. Jason Rice got his 13th save after a perfect ninth with two strikeouts. 

NOTES: The Sea Dogs reached the $4 million mark with their Strike Out Cancer in Kids program. 

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

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