PORTLAND – With the tying run on second base in the seventh inning, Reynaldo Rodriguez looked nothing like the slugger he’s been.

Rodriguez swung at a pitch too far outside, and then watched a fastball just graze the outside corner of home plate. Still, he remained focused.

“I got behind 0-2 and just tried to stay with the next pitch,” Rodriguez said.

“He threw me a breaking ball over the plate and I got it.”

Rodriguez’s RBI double to left center field tied the game. More runs followed as the Sea Dogs scored five in the seventh to beat the New Britain Rock Cats 8-5 Sunday afternoon, before 6,663 at Hadlock Field.

The Sea Dogs (20-29), in last place in the Eastern League East Division, have now won three straight against the first-place Rock Cats (28-21).

Jeremy Kehrt (2-0) picked up the win with 3 2/3 innings of one-hit relief.

Rodriguez paced the offense with a home run, two doubles and three RBI. Juan Carlos Linares added three hits, and Jeremy Hazelbaker contributed a triple and a home run.

Rodriguez leads the Sea Dogs with 11 home runs and a .577 slugging percentage.

Rodriguez, 26, signed with the Red Sox out of the independent leagues before the 2010 season. He was promoted to Portland last June but underwent an appendectomy a month later.

“Last year, he had a lot of success here, but then had the surgery,” Sea Dogs hitting coach Dave Joppie said. “It was tough for him to come back from that.

“Rolling into this season, he has stayed consistent. He works hard every single day. I know that’s a cliche, but he does, and it’s paying off for him.”

Rodriguez’s two-run homer in the fourth closed the score to 4-2. New Britain had scored four runs off starter Chris Martin, highlighted by Evan Bigley’s three-run home run.

Kehrt, who entered in the fifth, had struggled lately, allowing nine earned runs in his last 13 innings.

“My fastball has been straight and that’s not my game,” Kehrt said. “I got to get the ball down.”

Kehrt retired 11 of the first 12 batters he faced, and left with one out in the eighth when a batter reached on an error.

“It felt good to get back on track,” Kehrt said. “Biggest thing for me is being able to establish my sinker down in the zone.”

The Sea Dogs pounced on New Britain reliever Bobby Lanigan (1-3) in the seventh, starting with four straight hits — Hazelbaker (triple), Shannon Wilkerson (RBI single), Linares (single) and Rodriguez’s RBI double to tie the game.

RBI by Dan Butler (single), Derrik Gibson (sacrifice fly) and Zach Gentile (ground out) followed for a 7-4 lead.

Solo home runs by Hazelbaker and New Britain’s Deibinson Romero completed the scoring.

NOTES: Shortstop Derrik Gibson had been in an 0-for-28 slump. Since then he has hit safely in 15 of his last 19 games, going 23 for 59 (.390). … Rock Cats first baseman Chris Colabello of Milford, Mass., was not in the lineup after being hit on the wrist by an Anthony Ranaudo fastball Saturday. X-rays taken Saturday were negative, although his wrist was swollen. Colabello has shined at Hadlock, going 5 for 14 with four home runs and nine RBI in his previous four games.

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

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