MANCHESTER, N.H. — The Portland Sea Dogs kept their playoff hopes alive Monday night with a 10-5 win against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.
Portland improved to 65-69, four games behind Trenton for second place and the final playoff spot in the Eastern Division.
The Sea Dogs have eight games remaining and play at New Hampshire (66-68, one game ahead of Portland) again Tuesday. Henry Owens (2-0) starts for Portland against Marcus Stroman (8-4).
The Sea Dogs led 3-0 after three innings, fell behind 5-3 and then came back to blow the game open late.
Right fielder J.C. Linares was the star on offense, hitting a pair of three-run home runs.
“Recently we’ve had a hard time with runners in scoring position. With Linares, he’s a guy with a lot of strength and he came up clutch twice with runners in scoring position. It was a huge boost,” said Sea Dogs Manager Kevin Boles.
“He’s a guy that kept a real good attitude. His opportunity early on (in the year) was limited but now he’s getting a chance to play every day and we’re seeing the bat come along.”
Portland reliever Noe Ramirez shut down New Hampshire over the final 21/3 innings, working out of trouble for starter Miguel Pena (1-0) in the seventh and then cruising through the eighth and ninth frames. Ramirez earned his fifth save, striking out two and not allowing a hit or walk.
“He kept the ball down in the zone and was able to utilize a mix. He worked out of a jam. We’re saving the inventory in our bullpen and I thought that was key,” Boles said. “I thought Pena did a nice job, too.”
Ahead 6-5 in the top of the ninth, the Sea Dogs broke the game open with four runs.
Derrik Gibson led off with a single and Shannon Wilkerson bunted his way on base. Garin Cecchini flied out to right, but Christian Vazquez singled home Gibson and Linares followed with a three-run home run to center field.
The game was a back-and-forth affair. Portland took a 2-0 lead in top of the second on RBI singles from Ryan Dent and Gibson. The Sea Dogs made it 3-0 with a run in the third. Cecchini led off with a double and scored when Michael Almanzar singled to center with two outs.
New Hampshire tied the game at 3-3 with three runs in the fourth. Kevin Nolan doubled and scored on Adam Loewen’s single to make it 3-1. Gabe Jacobo then belted his seventh homer of the year to tie the game.
Second baseman John Tolisano hit a solo homer to center in the bottom of the fifth to give the Fisher Cats their first lead, 4-3.
New Hampshire added a run in the sixth to make it 5-3 when Nolan tripled and Jacobo singled him home.
Portland scored three runs in the seventh to take a 6-5 lead. Wilkerson stroked a one-out single and Vazquez walked with two outs.
Randy Boone (3-3) came on to relieve Marcus Walden and Linares greeted him with a homer to left to give the Sea Dogs the lead for good.