PORTLAND – Chris Martin may be the top reliever in the Eastern League right now. And Sunday’s result did not change that.
But the Portland Sea Dogs right-hander, would like one pitch back — a fastball he threw to New Britain’s Antoan Richardson.
“It was supposed to be up and in, but it didn’t get in,” Martin said.
Richardson stroked it to deep right center for a two-run double in the eighth inning, giving the Rock Cats a 6-5 win over Portland Sunday afternoon, before 5,048 at Hadlock Field.
The Sea Dogs’ winning streak ended at seven games, but they still feature the best record in the Eastern League, at 18-10.
After Portland won two straight walk-off wins against New Britain on Friday and Saturday, it was the Rock Cats’ turn to come back. They entered the eighth inning down 5-4.
Sea Dogs reliever Pete Ruiz (0-1) began the eighth by giving up a single and walk. Portland Manager Kevin Boles came out and signaled for Martin.
Martin not only has a 0.00 ERA, he also was 2 for 2 in stranding inherited runners.
Martin quickly got a strikeout and a groundout. But then Richardson ripped that high fastball for two runs and a victory for New Britain (15-15).
Ruiz had entered in the sixth inning, relieving starter Brandon Workman, who lasted 52/3 innings. Workman allowed six hits, two walks and four runs (only two of them earned). He struck out eight, giving him a team-high 42 in 351/3 innings.
“He struck out eight guys so his stuff was definitely there,” Boles said. “Their lineup grounded out some (at-bats) against him, and we didn’t protect the baseball well.”
Throwing errors by third baseman Michael Almanzar and catcher Christian Vazquez gave New Britain two runs in the fifth and 3-0 lead.
New Britain starter Alex Meyer, a top pitching prospect for the Minnesota Twins, had cruised through four innings. But Portland scored five runs in the fifth on four hits, two walks and an error.
Derrik Gibson (RBI single), Juan Carlos Linares (two-run single) and Tony Thomas (RBI double) delivered the big blows.
New Britain closed to 5-4 on a home run by former Sea Dogs first baseman Reynaldo Rodriguez, off Workman in the sixth. Workman left with two outs and a man on second.
Ruiz finished off the sixth and pitched out of a jam in the seventh, but got in trouble again in the eighth and Martin couldn’t strand the runners.
Still, Martin pitched two innings. He retired six of seven batters, four by strikeout. He now has 25 strikeouts in 192/3 innings.
“He’s been terrific,” Boles said. “He gets the two outs. Give credit to Richardson. He put a good swing on the pitch.”
The Rock Cats move onto New Hampshire, while the Sea Dogs will host the Reading Fightin’ Phils on Monday.
NOTES: Xander Bogaerts was out of the lineup for a second straight game with tightness in his midsection. Boles said he is day-to-day. … Outfielder Shannon Wilkerson, who was hit by a pitch on Saturday, just above the right elbow, sat out Sunday. … Kevin Millar bobblehead dolls will go to the first 1,000 fans through the gate. Gate opens at 4:30 p.m.
Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at: