PORTLAND — If you want to characterize the Portland Sea Dogs so far, look at Sunday’s 4-1 loss to New Britain, before 5,614 at Hadlock Field.

The Sea Dogs and Rock Cats both had eight hits. But Portland had two runners thrown out at home and grounded into four double plays.

Portland got solid starting pitching, but one rocky relief appearance sunk the Sea Dogs.

That left the Sea Dogs with some things to feel good about, but also a 10-17 record, the worst in the Eastern League.

Portland Manager Kevin Boles said the credit Sunday goes to New Britain.

“Their pitchers did a real nice job getting ground balls,” Boles said. “Not many days when we’ve hit into four double plays.”

In the first inning, Alex Hassan doubled to left center with Tim Federowicz on first base. Boles sent Federowicz home, where he was throw out on an 8-4-2 relay.

“That’s on me,” Boles said.

In the third inning, Jorge Padron singled and advanced to third with one out on Che-Hsuan Lin’s double off the left-field wall.

But Padron tried to score on a grounder to third and was easily thrown out.

Portland played small ball in the fifth and got a run on a single by Oscar Tejeda, a walk to Padron, Jon Hee’s sacrifice bunt and Lin’s groundout to short.

That gave Portland starter Alex Wilson a 1-0 lead.

Wilson was firing away with a fastball that reached 97 mph and an effective slider. He struck out five over 51/3 innings, allowing three hits, but also walking four. He left after throwing 85 pitches.

“His stuff was electric,” pitching coach Bob Kipper said. “He had some spikes in effort (causing the walks) but settled in after the third inning.”

Wilson gave up a leadoff double in the sixth and left after a groundout.

Caleb Clay (0-1) came on in relief, and the Rock Cats took advantage. Clay allowed the inherited runner to score as well as three others over 1 2/3 innings, giving up four hits and hitting two batters.

Clay, 23, was a sandwich-round draft pick (44th overall) out of high school in 2006. He underwent Tommy John surgery the next year.

Promoted to Portland this year, Clay was moved to the bullpen. But he has struggled, allowing runs in five of his six appearances, accounting for a 11.57 ERA.

“It’s not stuff or a mechanical issue,” Kipper said. “You know the old saying: success breeds confidence. Unfortunately, at this stage in the season, he has not had a lot of success.”

Tommy Hottovy finished the game with two innings of one-hit relief (19 pitches/15 strikes).

With the promotion of Blake Maxwell, Hottovy is the Sea Dogs’ most effective reliever (2.04 ERA and 0.90 WHIP).

The Rock Cats (16-12) have won four of their last six. Bobby Lanigan (3-2) got the victory, allowing six hits over six innings.

NOTES: Sea Dogs catcher Ryan Lavarnway threw out 2 of 3 base stealers and is now 7 of 22. The Sea Dogs wore their Mother’s Day pink jerseys to bring attention to breast cancer research. Rock Cats first baseman Chris Parmelee sported pink spikes. The Hadlock crowd broke into applause when it was announced that former Sea Dogs shortstop Jose Iglesias was called up to Boston. He entered the Red Sox game as a defensive replacement, becoming the 175th former Portland player to play in the major leagues. The Sea Dogs don’t return to Hadlock until May 17.

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at: kthomas@pressherald.com