PORTLAND – With every outing like the one Saturday night, Stolmy Pimentel gives hope to Red Sox Nation.

Pimentel, the 22-year-old Boston pitching prospect with a lively right arm and unpredictable results, came out firing with a fastball that hit 97 mph.

Plus, the change-up and slider were dazzling.

Pimentel carried a perfect game into the sixth inning, ending up with his finest Double-A outing in a 9-1 Portland Sea Dogs victory over New Hampshire before 6,584 at Hadlock Field.

Pimentel (3-4) lasted seven innings, allowing two hits, one run and one walk. He struck out six.

“Lights out,” catcher Dan Butler said. “He threw his (four-seam) fastball on both sides of the plate, and his two-seam fastball. Mix in his slider and change-up and you got a lot of options.”

Portland backed him with an 18-hit attack, led by Reynaldo Rodriguez’s two-run homer, Marquez Smith’s four singles and Butler’s three singles and three RBI.

But the focus was on Pimentel, the 6-foot-4, 230-pound right-hander whom the Red Sox believe can blossom into a big leaguer.

Boston, afraid that Pimentel might get taken in the Rule V draft after the 2010 season, placed Pimentel on the 40-man roster even though he had not pitched in Double-A.

Last season in Portland was forgettable (0-9, 9.12 ERA) and Pimentel was demoted to Class A.

He arrived in Portland this year with a renewed focus. The results have not always been there (5.37 ERA), but the progress has.

“He had a very calm presence out there,” Manager Kevin Boles said. “We’ve seen him good. And we saw him last year when he had some struggles. But you always believe in that kind of arm.”

On Saturday, Pimentel’s control was spot-on (88 pitches/62 strikes). He had only one three-ball count, resulting in his only walk, in the seventh inning.

“I maintained my delivery,” Pimentel said. “When you throw every pitch in the strike zone, the hitter gets uncomfortable.”

Brad Glenn broke up the perfect game with an infield single to lead off the sixth. His grounder between third base and shortstop Derrik Gibson was stopped by Gibson, but he had no play.

Kenen Bailli followed with a double and Glenn eventually scored on a groundout.

Pimentel’s defense played solid, including a leaping grab by Smith at third base, and Gibson’s diving stop of a grounder up the middle, flipping the ball from his glove for the force at second base.

NOTES: Pitcher Chris Carpenter, who made a rehab appearance Friday, moved on to Triple-A Pawtucket. Infielder Ryan Dent also got the call to Pawtucket. In a corresponding move, outfielder Ronald Bermudez returned from Pawtucket to Portland. After the game, reliever Chorye Spoone (4.15 ERA) was released.

Staff writer Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

kthomas@pressherald.com

Twitter: ClearTheBases