READING, Pa. — Blake Maxwell was excited for several reasons when he came off the mound after closing out the Reading Phillies in the first game of an Eastern League doubleheader Wednesday night.

After pumping a fastball past cleanup hitter Matt Rizzotti to wrap up Portland’s 5-4 victory, he spun on the mound and pumped his fist enthusiastically.

“In a close game like that, I’m a little pumped up, especially if you can close the door, it’s always exciting,” said Maxwell after earning his team-leading 12th save.

The win was a special one for the Sea Dogs, who snapped an 11-game losing streak in Reading.

“That’s a good streak to break,” said Maxwell, “especially since we play these guys five more times (in Reading this season). We don’t want to lose them all.”

The Sea Dogs made it two straight in the second game as Jeff Howell, just signed out of the independent American Association, homered and tripled to spark a 5-3 victory.

Howell hit a two-run homer in his first at-bat, giving the Sea Dogs a 3-0 lead in the second inning.

He tripled in his next at-bat to ignite a two-run rally that gave Portland a 5-0 lead.

Right-hander Jeremy Kehrt (2-0) shut out the Phillies through the first five innings to get the win. He left in the sixth after giving up a leadoff homer to Carlos Rivero and a walk to Brent Clevlen as the Phillies rallied for three runs.

In the opener, Rizzotti, who bats left-handed and is fourth in the league with 20 home runs, came to the plate in the final inning with two outs, the tying run on second and first base open.

“Kip (pitching coach Bob Kipper) came out to the mound and said ‘We want to challenge this guy,’” Maxwell said. “He asked me what I wanted to do, and I said, ‘Let’s go right at him.’

“Kip thought it was a good matchup and I’ve had success against Rizzotti this season. So I felt confident. We wanted to keep the ball out of the middle of the plate and keep it down, and it worked out.”

Rizzotti is batting .350 against the Sea Dogs this season. Surprisingly he’s hit lefties (.317) better than righties (.269).

The Sea Dogs took the lead in the sixth when Ryan Khoury’s drive to the gap in right-center eluded center fielder Derrick Mitchell and went for a triple.

Mitchell dived for the ball and nearly made a spectacular play, but the ball was jostled from his glove when he hit the ground.

One batter later, Alex Hassan poked a ball through the left side of the drawn-in infield for an RBI single that gave Portland a 5-4 lead.

The Sea Dogs led 1-0 and 3-1, but couldn’t hold the leads.

After Will Middlebrooks hit his 17th homer in the first, Reading’s Rivero answered with a solo shot in the bottom of the inning.

Portland went up 3-1 in the second on Ryan Dent’s two-run double off the glove of third baseman Rivero.

The Phillies tied it again with two in the bottom half off starter Chris Balcom-Miller, then took the lead in the third on Rizzotti’s RBI double.

Portland tied it in the fifth on Ronald Bermudez’s RBI single.