PORTLAND – Marcus Walden continues to have his way with the Portland Sea Dogs.
The New Hampshire Fisher Cats’ right-hander went six innings Thursday night, allowing four hits and striking out five in a 7-2 victory — his third over the Sea Dogs this month.
Two relievers pitched the final three innings before 4,213 at Hadlock Field. It was Portland’s fifth loss in the last six games.
Manchester’s Kevin Ahrens equaled his career high for hits in a game, going four for four with two doubles and a pair of RBI.
“I felt real comfortable at the plate,” said Ahrens. “I saw the ball really well and was just trying to make good swings. It was good finally getting the cold weather out and hitting in warm weather. Hopefully our bats will come around with the heat.”
Ahrens also was impressed with Walden’s performance.
“Marcus did a good job. He was throwing strikes. That helps when you’re playing defense because he keeps you in the game.”
Walden and reliever Evan Crawford retired 10 straight Sea Dogs at one point.
“He’s been tough on us,” said Sea Dogs Manager Kevin Boles. “He throws that sinker and has a cutter. That sinker is tough to get under. He gets a lot of ground ball outs with it. It’s certainly a weapon for him. It makes hitters uncomfortable with the ball boring in on right-handed batters. He maintains a good tempo and attacks the zone.”
Things started out well for the Sea Dogs as leadoff batter Shannon Wilkerson dumped one into short left field in the first and then hustled to second for the double.
Walden then hit Xander Bogaerts with a pitch. Whether it was a message to the Portland shortstop after he hit two homers on Wednesday night in Portland’s 9-1 win — well it wasn’t clear.
Walden got the next batter Tony Thomas on a 6-4-3 double play before Michael Almanzar singled through the middle to score Wilkerson for what turned out to be a short-lived 1-0 lead.
The Fisher Cats sent nine men to the plate to score five runs on five hits in the second against starter Drake Britton.
An error by Bogaerts on a high throw got things started for New Hampshire. Sean Ochinko dumped a soft liner into left. After a strikeout by Britton, Ahrens singled sharply up the middle to tie it. Jack Murphy doubled off the Maine Monster for another run and a ground out made it 3-1.
Back-to-back doubles by Kevin Pillar and Brian Van Kirk made it 5-1.
Britton was hitting the mid 90s consistently on the radar gun, but Fisher Cats were timing his fastballs on a good hitting night.
Britton went five innings, struck out seven and walked one.
“No slump,” said Boles. “We just got beat by a good pitcher, plain and simple.”
Tom Chard can be contacted at 791-6419 or at: