PORTLAND – Home runs by Peter Hissey and Travis Shaw and a respectable performance from Anthony Ranaudo were not enough to prevent the Portland Sea Dogs from losing their eighth straight on a sweltering Friday night at Hadlock Field.
Reading never trailed in a 4-3 Eastern League victory over Portland before a crowd announced as 5,256.
The visitors scored in the first inning when Manager Dusty Wathan, a former Sea Dog from their days as a Marlins affiliate, waved home Derrick Mitchell from second base on a routine single to left field.
“Sometimes you roll the dice a little bit and try to get a run on the board early, especially against a team that’s having trouble scoring runs,” said Wathan, who also coaches third base.
“We’ve been on that side a lot this year. It’s deflating when you haven’t even come to bat yet and you’re already down a run.”
The last time the Sea Dogs lost eight in a row was late in the summer of 2006. Yes, that’s the year they won their only Eastern League championship.
The Sea Dogs collected eight hits Friday against three Reading pitchers. Hissey’s third homer of the season tied the game at 2 in the sixth. Shaw’s 11th came with two out in the ninth.
“They’re going to come, the hits and the runs,” said Sea Dogs catcher Christian Vazquez. “We just need to play hard and play the game the right way.”
The game marked the end of Red Sox shortstop Stephen Drew’s two-game rehab appearance. Drew went 1 for 3 in the leadoff spot and departed after five innings, bound for Fenway.
Ranaudo returned to regular-season action for the first time in two weeks. He had pitched one inning in the Eastern League All-Star Game on July 11 and two-thirds in the Futures Game on July 14, giving up five runs in the process.
It took Ranaudo a little time to shake off the rust. Reading reached him for six hits and three walks in the first three innings — but only scored twice.
“I had a few rough patches,” Ranaudo said. “I put myself in some situations that I shouldn’t have been in if I had just attacked guys and not walked them. But everything felt normal. Everything felt good.”
Maikel Franco singled home the first Reading run and Albert Cartwright the second. Ranaudo escaped further damage in the third when, with one out and the bases full, Garin Cecchini leaped for a chopper over third and brushed the bag with his foot as he threw to first for a double play.
“That was a big play,” Ranaudo said. “It gave me a little shot of life and I seemed to pick up the pace, settle in and pitch pretty well in the middle part of the game.”
Indeed, he retired 10 of the next 12 batters.
The Sea Dogs tied it at 2 with runs in the fourth and sixth, the latter on Hissey’s leadoff homer. The first run came courtesy of designated hitter Michael Almanzar, who doubled, alertly stole third and came home on a Tony Thomas groundout.
With the score tied at 2, Ranaudo came out for the seventh having thrown 96 pitches and lasted only three more, all of them hit hard.
After a liner to third, Zach Collier homered into the right-field pavilion for a 3-2 lead and Franco doubled into the gap, spelling the end for Ranaudo.
NOTES: As expected, the Sea Dogs placed Kolbrin Vitek on the disabled list because of a concussion. Vitek banged his head against the left-field wall attempting to make a catch of Albert Cartwright’s triple in the eighth inning of Thursday night’s 7-5 loss.
Also, Kyle Kraus was assigned to Class A Salem to open a roster spot for Ranaudo.
Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at: