PORTLAND — It was a group effort by the Portland Sea Dogs Thursday night in a 4-2 win over the New Hampshire Fisher Cats before 6,620 at Hadlock Field.

For starters, the Sea Dogs did not have one – a regular starting pitcher, that is.

Because of a series of injuries and scheduled breaks, the Sea Dogs relied on three relievers. Will Latimer, Brock Huntzinger and Josh Fields combined on a four-hitter.

Portland got all the runs it needed in the first inning, on Jeremy Hazelbaker’s two-run homer and Dan Butler’s RBI double.

Marquez Smith added a home run in the eighth.

While the Sea Dogs (37-54) and Fisher Cats (36-54) are not going to be contenders this year, they do have an interesting battle going on, to avoid the cellar of the Eastern League’s East Division.
Portland jumped a half-game ahead of the Fisher Cats.

Latimer, a 26-year-old lefty, made his first professional start since being drafted in 2007 out of Trinidad (Colo.) Junior College. He retired the first six batters, four by strikeout, and lasted four innings (one hit, one run, two walks, five strikeouts).

“Just treated it like a relief appearance, like I was going out for the sixth inning,” said Latimer, who had his fastball, slider and change-up working (55 pitches, 36 strikes).

In April, Latimer had an 8.53 ERA (12 earned runs). Since then, he’s allowed a total of eight earned runs, including a four-game stint in Triple-A.

“I started out a little rough. Made some changes, and it’s starting to turn around for me,” he said.

Huntzinger (3-4) continues to perform well since moving to the bullpen in late April. He gave up two hits (one of them a solo home run by Mike McDade) over three innings, striking out three. His ERA since becoming a reliever is 3.10.

Fields pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth (single, walk, hit by pitch), getting McDade to line out to second base. He then pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his sixth save, and ninth straight scoreless outing. He struck out two and now has 46 strikeouts in 341/3 innings, and a 3.15 ERA.

“All three pitchers attacked the zone and saved our bullpen, with a doubleheader (tonight),” Sea Dogs Manager Kevin Boles said.

Portland began the game with an eight-pitch walk by Jackie Bradley Jr. The next batter, Hazelbaker, unloaded on a fastball from John Stilson (2-2), crushing his 10th home run to center field.
Smith then walked and scored on Butler’s two-out, broken-bat double down the left-field line.
Smith’s home run in the eighth was his first since joining the team on June 16.

NOTES: Chris Carpenter, one of the pitchers obtained from the Cubs as compensation for Theo Epstein, will start one of the doubleheader games today. Carpenter, 26, reached the majors last year, appearing in 10 games with the Cubs. He has been out this season after surgery to remove a bone spur in his elbow, and is currently on a rehab assignment. … Third baseman Kolbrin Vitek, on the disabled list since May 22 because of a strained back muscle, is rehabbing in Florida and could resume playing Saturday, according to a tweet from Vitek.

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

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Twitter: ClearTheBases