PORTLAND – Mixed results for the left-handers in Portland Sea Dogs uniforms Wednesday night.
Chris Hernandez recorded a very encouraging start after his demotion from Pawtucket.
Red Sox reliever Franklin Morales got his work in with one inning of rehab work, although he gave up two hits and a run.
Rafael Perez had a one-run lead to protect in the ninth, but allowed three runs on two homers as the Richmond Flying Squirrels beat the Sea Dogs 5-3 before 6,346 at Hadlock Field.
Garin Cecchini went 2 for 4 with two RBI for Portland.
The Sea Dogs (56-60) fell back into a third-place tie with New Hampshire in the Eastern League East Division, three games behind second-place Trenton in their race for a playoff berth.
Perez (2-2), the former Cleveland Indians reliever, walked the leadoff batter in the ninth before giving up back-to-back home runs by Adam Duvall and Jarrett Parker.
But the good news concerned Hernandez, who recorded his second-longest outing all year (61/3 innings), allowing one run on four hits and a walk. He struck out four.
“Nice to feel like myself again and be back where I want to be,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez, 24, was an Eastern League All-Star last season with Portland but struggled in Triple-A Pawtucket this year with a 5.72 ERA, including an uncharacteristic 51 walks in 1021/3 innings.
“It hasn’t been what I wanted, to say the least,” Hernandez said. “I know I have a lot of stuff I can work on. I know that’s why I’m here, to get back to my form, back to throwing strikes and back to getting quick outs, which is something I haven’t done this year.”
Hernandez retired 10 of the first 11 batters he faced on 45 pitches.
Conversely, Richmond starter Chris Gloor needed 34 pitches in the first inning. He gave up one run (Cecchini RBI single), but escaped a bases-loaded jam when Juan Carlos Linares flied out.
Morales entered with one out in the seventh with the score 2-1. He finished the inning but gave up a leadoff double in the eighth. That runner scored on a sacrifice fly against Perez.
Morales, on the disabled list with a strained left pectoralis muscle, threw 20 pitches (13 strikes). He exited Hadlock before the game was over but left behind a lobster dinner spread for the Sea Dogs.
Portland took the lead again, 3-2 in the eighth. Shannon Wilkerson singled and scored on Cecchini’s fly-ball double down the left-field line.
But Perez gave up the lead and the Sea Dogs have lost six of their last eight games.
NOTES: Boston Celtics forward Jared Sullinger was scheduled to throw out the first pitch but arrived after the game began, citing heavy traffic. Sullinger, who recently was cleared to begin workouts following back surgery last February, stayed around to sign autographs. … Olympian Julia Clukey is scheduled to appear at Thursday’s noon game. … Wilkerson went 2 for 4 and is batting .461 in his last eight games. … Pitcher Keith Couch, who made a spot start for Pawtucket, returned to the Sea Dogs. … While there are just over 1,000 tickets left for Thursday’s game, there will also be box seats available, re-sold because some season-ticket holders can’t make it. Tickets remain for Friday’s 6 p.m. game (new time), which will have fireworks afterward.
Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or: