PORTLAND – Good pitching and plenty of offense propelled the Portland Sea Dogs to a 6-4 win over the New Hampshire Fisher Cats Saturday night before 6,539 at Hadlock Field.
Nate Spears had a two-run triple and finished with three RBI. Anthony Rizzo hit his 19th home run of the season, and Ryan Lavarnway and Luis Exposito added sacrifice flies.
Portland (68-71) won its third straight. The Fisher Cats (79-60) will finish second in the Eastern League’s East Division and will play at first-place Trenton on Wednesday when the playoffs begin.
“We’ve been playing well,” Spears said. “Our pitching is keeping us in it.”
Jeremy Kehrt (3-11) got the win, allowing two runs on four hits in five innings. Ryne Lawson pitched one-hit relief over three innings, and Eammon Portice survived the ninth to close it out.
Down 6-2, New Hampshire rallied for two runs in the ninth and had the tying runs in scoring position with two outs. But Portice struck out Matt Liuzza.
Kehrt, 24, may not have had the record he wanted, but he stayed with the Double-A club and made strides, using his sinker for some solid innings.
Kehrt, a 47th-round draft pick in 2008, was called up from Class A to make a spot start on May 21. He was sent down the next day, but returned on June 1 — and stayed.
“He came up and did so well,” Portland Manager Arnie Beyeler said. “We were like, ‘can we keep this guy?’
“I know his record is not great but he’s pretty much given us a quality start every time out and kept us in the ballgame.”
Lawson, in his second season in Portland, is finishing strong. He has allowed eight hits and one run in his last 19 1/3 innings.
NOTES: Spears and Lavarnway are on the threshold of triple-digit milestones. Spears scored in the third inning, giving him 99 runs for the season. Besides being one away from 100, Spears is five away from the franchise record held by Ralph Milliard (1995). Lavarnway’s sacrifice fly gave him 99 RBI this season (63 with Class A Salem and 36 with Portland). … Rizzo’s homer was his 24th, along with 96 RBI (five homers and 20 RBI coming at Salem). … Another Sea Dogs player shooting for 100 is Portice, who has 96 strikeouts in 93 innings. He may get one more outing this year. … The Sea Dogs stole three bases in three attempts (Ryan Khoury, Che-Hsuan Lin and Rizzo). Lin now has 25 steals. … Exposito threw out Callix Crabbe trying to steal in the fourth inning. Crabbe is 19 of 25 for the season.
Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at: