PORTLAND – Billy Buckner pitched parts of four seasons in the major leagues and had not seen the Double-A since 2007.
“It’s tough. But I know I have to pitch somewhere to advance,” Buckner said.
Buckner, 28, pitched six shutout innings Friday night to lead the Portland Sea Dogs to a 4-0 victory over the Binghamton Mets, before 6,563 at Hadlock Field.
Aaron Kurcz allowed one hit over two innings, and Josh Fields struck out the side in the ninth.
Jeremy Hazelbaker broke up a scoreless tie with a two-run double down the left-field line in the fifth inning. Reynaldo Rodriguez’s RBI triple followed Juan Carlos Linares’ RBI double in the seventh.
Buckner (2-3, 3.53 ERA) allowed three hits and three walks while striking out three. He got defensive support from center fielder Ronald Bermudez, who ran down a long drive and also made two sliding catches, one of them saving a run in the second inning. Hazelbaker made a sliding catch in left.
“It was a total team effort,” Buckner said. “I made big pitches when I had to. Other than that, it was not my best executed game.”
A second-round draft pick of the Royals in 2004, Buckner reached the majors in 2007. He was traded to Arizona and pitched parts of three seasons for the Diamondbacks. He signed with Colorado and stayed in Triple-A last season.
After recovering from surgery for bone spurs in his elbow, Buckner signed with the Red Sox after spring training began.
“All I want to do is get healthier and get stronger and get back to how I was pitching before,” said Buckner.
“My goal is still to pitch in the big leagues again After every game, I want (pitching coach) Bob Kipper to tell me how I’m doing on a major league level.”
Kipper said Buckner has “dominated” at times in previous games, while calling Friday’s effort a “grind but he was always able to recover and make the (right) pitch.”
With runners on second and third and one out in the fifth, Buckner got a strikeout. After a walk to load the bases, he escaped with a fielder’s choice grounder.
Hazelbaker came up with runners on second and third in the bottom of the fifth and fought off a change-up by Gonzalez Germen (1-2), slicing the ball over third base to give the Sea Dogs a 2-0 lead.
Buckner ended his outing with a 1-2-3 sixth.
NOTES: Left fielder Oscar Tejeda went on the disabled list because of a strained left hamstring. … Reliever Charle Rosario (6.23) was sent back to Class A Greenville. … The Sea Dogs did not announce today’s starter, but Stolmy Pimentel is expected to come off the disabled list. … Top pitching prospect Anthony Ranaudo’s next start will be Monday in Manchester, N.H. He is expected to make his Hadlock debut next Saturday. … The weather is good and the tickets are going. About 1,000 are left for today and Sunday.
Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at: