PORTLAND – A good fireworks show saves its best for the finale. The Portland Sea Dogs did not follow the script Thursday night.
Portland scored all its runs in the first inning and then fizzled, as the New Britain Rock Cats beat the Sea Dogs 6-4 before a sold-out Hadlock Field crowd of 7,368.
Portland reliever Rafael Perez (0-1) took the loss, allowing two runs on four hits in the ninth inning.
Christian Vazquez and Juan Carlos Linares both had two hits, and Garin Cecchini reached base three times on a single and two walks.
When the game began, it appeared the Sea Dogs would romp past the Rock Cats. New Britain starter Trevor May, a top Twins prospect acquired in the offseason Ben Revere trade with the Phillies, looked shaky.
May had allowed only one run in two previous games against Portland, but the Sea Dogs pounced on May in the first inning for four runs on four hits and a walk. Tony Thomas’ two-run double keyed the rally.
May threw 37 pitches in the first inning, but regrouped and pitched five more innings, needing only 70 more pitches.
“We let him off the hook,” Sea Dogs Manager Kevin Boles said, “but it’s a credit to him. He has that kind of stuff. … He was running up his pitch count but we just weren’t able to finish him off.”
While May kept his team close, the Rock Cats caught up with two home runs against Sea Dogs starter Charlie Haeger.
In the fifth, an error by Cecchini and a walk put two runners on. Jordan Perez followed with a three-run home run to left. Josmil Pinto homered in the sixth to tie it.
Haeger left after 52/3 innings, having allowed four hits and four runs, three earned.
Chris Balcom-Miller relieved and pitched 21/3 hitless innings, keeping the score 4-4.
In the top of the ninth, New Britain first baseman (and former Sea Dog) Reynaldo Rodriguez greeted Perez with a double to left.
After a sacrifice, New Britain sent up pinch-hitter Miguel Sano, the touted 20-year-old man-child (6-foot-4, 247 pounds), who signed with Minnesota for a $3.15 million bonus. Sano was recently promoted to Double-A.
Sano smoked a double down the left-field line, scoring Rodriguez for a 5-4 lead. Sano scored on Eddie Rosario’s single.
The Sea Dogs went down 1-2-3 in the ninth.
The players left the field but the crowd stayed. The real fireworks show was about to start.
NOTES: Cecchini is batting .372 through 12 games with a .509 on-base percentage. Vazquez is batting .379 (11 for 29) in his last seven games. Vazquez also threw out 1 of 2 base-stealers and is 32 of 68 (.470) for the season. New Britain’s Rodriguez signed a minor league contract with the Twins in the offseason. He is batting .237 with 11 home runs. Clay Buchholz bobblehead dolls will be given to the first 1,000 fans Friday night.
Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or: