MANCHESTER, N.H. — With a four-game losing streak, including a 7-3 defeat against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats on Sunday, the Portland Sea Dogs could use a lift.

Maybe Junichi Tazawa can give them one.

Tazawa, 25, the former Sea Dogs pitcher who reached the majors in 2009, is expected to start for Portland tonight when it begins a week-long home-stand at 7 p.m. against the New Britain Rock Cats.

Tazawa underwent Tommy John surgery last year and just finished a month-long rehab assignment with Class A Salem. He rejoined the Sea Dogs Thursday, but has not been officially added to the roster.

The Sea Dogs have not announced a starter for tonight’s game and would not comment on Tazawa while he is not on the roster, but Tazawa said he expects to pitch.

Sunday’s starter, Brock Huntzinger (4-6), looked good in spurts — retiring seven of eight batters at one point — but got hit hard at other times.

He allowed four hits in the second inning, including Mark Sobolewski’s first home run, a three-run drive over Delta Dental Stadium’s short right-field wall (306 feet down the line).

Huntzinger seemed to settle down after that before issuing a two-out walk to Sobolewski in the fourth. A triple and single followed, and Portland trailed 6-0.

“He made some quality pitches and he made some mistakes,” Boles said. “He left some pitches up in the zone. With that lineup, they have a lot of threats.”

The lead looked solid for Fisher Cats starter Joel Carreno (6-5), who allowed just one hit in seven innings last month at Hadlock Field.

He had a one-hitter going again until Jon Hee doubled to lead off the fifth. A walk, a sacrifice fly by Jorge Padron, a double by Mitch Dening and an RBI single by Ryan Khoury closed it to 6-3.

Carreno, who is on the Blue Jays’ 40-man roster, pitched six innings, allowing four hits and striking out nine

The New Hampshire bullpen continued its domination with three hitless innings. Fisher Cats relievers had a total of nine hitless innings in the series.

“They’ve got a quality pen with some veteran guys,” Boles said.

Sea Dogs reliever Cesar Cabral gave up a home run to center by Moises Sierra in the eighth.

The Fisher Cats improved their Eastern League-best record to 46-27. The Sea Dogs dropped to 25-47 and trail New Hampshire by 20½ games.

NOTES: Third baseman Will Middlebrooks, on the disabled list with a sore triceps muscle, was sent to Lowell for a rehab assignment. He was 1 for 2 with a home run, a walk and a sacrifice fly in a 4-1 win Sunday against Vermont. Shortstop Ryan Dent, who has been on the DL with an injured hamstring since May 1, was sent to Fort Myers, Fla., to continue his rehabilitation. Second baseman Oscar Tejeda left the game after he grounded out in the seventh inning. Boles said he had a cramp in his right hamstring.

New Hampshire’s league-leading base stealer, Anthony Gose, was 1 for 2 against Portland catcher Matt Spring. The announced paid attendance was 8,121.

In Saturday night’s game, catcher Tim Federowicz was credited with 15 blocks on 16 pitches in the dirt. “And the other one he blocked,” Boles said. “It just squirted away. He put on a clinic.”

Portland’s homestand includes a doubleheader on Tuesday and a noon game on Wednesday. The Sea Dogs and Fisher Cats will see each other again soon, and often. The teams play a four-game series in Portland Thursday through Sunday, then play four more games in Manchester July 8-11.

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

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Twitter: ClearTheBases