PORTLAND – It was only a matter of time before Sea Dogs pitcher Anthony Ranaudo broke out of his binary world.
After opening the Eastern League season with a stingy 1-0-1-0-1 line representing the number of runs allowed in his first five starts, Ranaudo finally faced a crooked number Tuesday night at Hadlock Field as Reading hit a pair of home runs and won 5-1.
“That’s the way the game goes,” said Ranaudo, who allowed only five hits in six innings and three earned runs. “I was pitching pretty well, but when you run into some good hitters and leave some balls where you don’t really want them, that stuff is going to happen.”
The victory ended a seven-game losing streak for Reading. The division-leading Sea Dogs lost for only the second time in 10 games.
It was a pitching duel between Ranaudo (4-1) and converted reliever Hector Neris (3-1) through five innings. The only scoring came on a pair of two-out solo home runs in the fourth, by Derrick Mitchell of Reading and Travis Shaw of Portland.
In the sixth, Reading’s Jim Murphy turned on a 95 mph Ranaudo fastball and sent it over the Maine Monster in left-centerfield. The home run was the sixth of the season for Murphy.
“It always helps seeing a guy a couple of times,” said Murphy, who was facing Ranaudo for the second time in a week and third time this season. “He has a heck of an arm, that’s for sure.”
A pair of doubles and an infield error made it 4-1 before Ranaudo registered his sixth strikeout to retire the side and end his night.
“I thought Anthony was terrific,” said Sea Dogs Manager Kevin Boles. “He had command of the fastball, plus velocity, feel for his breaking ball and threw some really good change-ups as well,” he said. “He did his job.”
Boles gave several of his regulars the night off, moved Shaw from first to third base and catcher Matt Spring to first. Shortstop Xander Bogaerts sat out his fourth straight game with “tightness in his midsection” but is expected to play Wednesday night, Boles said.
“We wanted to make sure that we could get him a couple full workouts before we sent him out there at game speed,” Boles said. “We erred on the side of caution.”
Reading wasted no time in testing Shaw at third base; Albert Cartwright bunted the game’s first pitch but Shaw charged, gloved the ball and made a strong throw to first.
“It felt good to get the first one out of the way,” said Shaw, who played third base at Kent State but only once at the position for the Sea Dogs last season.
“Being able to go over there every once in a while is going to help me in the long run.”
Shaw’s home run was his first of the season. Shannon Wilkerson had two of Portland’s seven hits. Neris allowed only four hits in six innings.
“He’s got great stuff,” said Reading Manager Dusty Wathan, a former Sea Dogs catcher. “He’s got a really good sinker, but I think (moving into a starting role) is making his slider and change-up better because he’s having to use them more.”
Reading added an insurance in the ninth on a wild pitch from Miguel Celestino. The Sea Dogs brought the tying run to the plate in the eighth but reliever Mike Nesseth induced a fisted pop-up from J.C. Linares to end the threat.
NOTES: Rehabbing Red Sox left-handed reliever Franklin Morales, on the disabled list since late March with a lower back strain, is scheduled to pitch the first two innings Wednesday night. He will be followed by the previously-scheduled starter, Drake Britton (2-2, 4.75). … The Eastern League Player of the Month for April is Reading left-hander Jesse Biddle, who went 2-1 with a 1.74 ERA. In 31 innings, he struck out 40 and walked 12 while holding opposing batters to a .114 average. … Morales is the fourth Red Sox player to rehab with the Sea Dogs this season, following SS Stephen Drew and pitchers John Lackey and Craig Breslow. Morales made one rehab start with Class A Greenville on April 17th.
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