MANCHESTER, N.H. – Drake Britton walked off the mound for the last time this season.

On the scoresheet, Britton was the losing pitcher. In the minds of the Boston Red Sox, Britton walked away a success story.

Britton, using his 95 mph fastball, gave up three earned runs in six innings Thursday night in the Portland Sea Dogs’ 6-1 loss to the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.

The three earned runs were the most he’s allowed in his last eight starts. Britton finished with a 3.72 ERA in 16 starts. Compare that to last year, when he finished a full season in advanced Class A Salem with a 1-13 record and 6.91 ERA.

“Ten times better,” Britton said. “Being able to handle game situations and not letting things get out of control.

“And I have better location with all my pitches. I’m able to have fun again.”

Britton began this season in Salem and struggled early. As soon as he appeared in sync, the Red Sox sent him to Double-A in June. Britton may be only 23 but he’s on the Red Sox 40-man roster. He will have minor league options only through 2014.

He responded to the promotion with consistency for most of the past three months. Take away two clunkers (15 earned runs total in two starts) and his ERA was 2.31.

“This guy is definitely on a mission,” Sea Dogs Manager Kevin Boles said. “He’s come a long way. He just worries about executing the next pitch and stays focused. He’s a young guy with a bright future.”

Britton allowed two baserunners in the second inning on two grounders to third baseman Derrik Gibson. One was muffed for an error, the other took a bad bounce under Gibson’s glove for a single. Gabe Jacobo followed with a three-run homer to left.

Britton retired the next 11 before giving up a leadoff walk in the sixth. That runner scored on a two-out single for a 4-1 lead.

Chris Martin then gave up two runs on four hits in two innings.

Portland totaled five hits, three by Xander Bogaerts, after only two hits Wednesday night.

The Sea Dogs’ run came in the fourth: Marquez Smith walked, went to third on Travis Shaw’s double and scored on Bogaerts’ groundout.

NOTES: For the third time in four days, the Sea Dogs had a player promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket. Outfielder Bryce Brentz got the call, following outfielder Jeremy Hazelbaker and reliever Brock Huntzinger. As Pawtucket loses players to call-ups, they will help the PawSox in their playoff push.

Brentz, 23, batted .296 with 30 doubles, 17 home runs and 76 RBI. In his Triple-A debut, he was 0 for 3, but Hazelbaker came through in Pawtucket’s 1-0 win over Gwinnett with a sacrifice fly.

The Sea Dogs return for their final four games of the season at Hadlock Field. Friday night, the Sea Dogs Hall of Fame inductees will be announced

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

[email protected]

Twitter: ClearTheBases