PORTLAND – Friday should have been a night to celebrate for the Portland Sea Dogs.
Pitcher Drake Britton was promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket.
Reliever Will Latimer was chosen to replace Britton in the Eastern League All-Star game.
Starter Anthony Ranaudo kept making a case to be the next pitcher sent to Triple-A, as he left with a 5-2 lead over New Britain after seven innings.
It was still 5-2 with two outs in the ninth. Even with two runners on, Sea Dogs fans were ready to applaud another victory.
Then came a fielding error, followed by four hits, and the New Britain Rock Cats stunned Portland with a 7-5 win before 5,802 at Hadlock Field.
All five ninth-inning runs were unearned because they came after third baseman Michael Almanzar bobbled a grounder that could have been the final out. Latimer (2-5) could not stop the slide. He allowed five hits and a walk in the inning.
“Will made a pitch to induce a ground ball with two outs,” Sea Dogs Manager Kevin Boles said. After the error, “he seemed to get out of sync and left some pitches up.
“It was a combination of not executing pitches and not executing the defensive fundamentals.”
The loss overshadowed an excellent night at the plate for Derrik Gibson. He has struggled this year with a .212 average, but he broke out with a triple and two RBI doubles. Travis Shaw hit his 10th home run.
Ranaudo gave up four hits, three walks and two runs over seven innings. He retired 13 of the last 15 batters he faced, and struck out three.
Before the game, the Sea Dogs announced that Britton had been promoted. He follows Brandon Workman, who went up last month.
When will it be Ranaudo’s turn? Naturally, Ranaudo said he’s not worried about it.
“I can’t do anything about it. All I can do is be here and take care of my business,” Ranaudo said.
“Eventually when the Red Sox think I’m ready, I’ll be up there.”
Ranaudo’s ERA dropped to 2.67. He was in line for his ninth win until the late collapse.
Portland dropped to 44-40 and remains in second place in the East Division, three games ahead of New Britain and Trenton (both 42-44).
The Sea Dogs play the Rock Cats tonight at 6.
NOTES: Replacing Britton for the Sea Dogs will be Terry Doyle from Pawtucket. Doyle, who attended Salem (N.H) High and Boston College, signed with the Red Sox in the offseason as a minor-league free agent. He was 5-6 with a 5.60 ERA in Triple-A. … Garin Cecchini went 2 for 4 to raise his average to .383 after 13 games. … Former Sea Dogs pitcher Dan Turpen got his third save for the Rock Cats. … Workman pitched 6 1/3 shutout innings Friday for Pawtucket in a 1-0, 10-inning loss to Rochester.
Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or: