On paper, it was a mismatch.
The Reading Fightin Phils sent the Philadelphia Phillies top pitching prospect, Jesse Biddle, to the mound Monday night at Hadlock Field.
The Portland Sea Dogs countered with Mike McCarthy, entering the game with an 8.59 ERA.
But Biddle got beat again by the Sea Dogs, while McCarthy was dealing in an 8-6 victory.
McCarthy (1-2) used his control to limit the Phils to three hits, no runs and no walks over six innings. He struck out two and went to a three-ball count only twice.
“He was fantastic in the zone,” catcher Matt Spring said. “He commanded both sides of the plate with his fastball and that opened it up for his other pitches.”
McCarthy added cut fastballs, sliders, curveballs and split-fingered fastballs. Everything worked.
“What we needed with our bullpen depleted,” said Sea Dogs Manager Billy McMillon, who has a bullpen that pitched 13 innings the previous two days.
On Monday, two relievers gave up six runs, but Portland’s offense provided enough cushion.
The Sea Dogs had seven hits and took advantage of eight walks and four Phils errors.
Mookie Betts again provided the lead-off spark, reaching base four times on a double and three walks, stealing two bases, and scoring three runs. Travis Shaw singled in two runs.
Biddle, 22, the Phillies’ first-round draft pick in 2010, lasted only four innings: four hits, six runs (four earned), five walks and one strikeout.
Biddle (2-3) struggled last year against the Sea Dogs and this season is no different. He is 2-1 with a 1.80 ERA in his four starts against other Eastern League teams, but 0-2 (9.86) against Portland.
“He’s a good pitcher,” Shaw said. “But over the past two years, everyone seems to put together good at-bats against him.”
McMillon had no explanation for Portland’s unique success against Biddle, but pointed to those eight walks against the Phils’ staff. “We were patient early,” he said.
“That goes back to our hitting philosophy as an organization – drive up pitch counts and get to the bullpen.”
McCarthy kept his count low (85 pitches/54 strikes). He credited Spring for the game plan and support.
“He was working as hard as he could back there,” McCarthy said. “My approach was the same (as previous starts), but we did a much better job with that today.”
McCarthy, a 14th-round draft pick out of Cal State-Bakersfield in 2011, has moved up the Red Sox system one level at a time.
Kyle Kraus, called up from Class A Salem to reinforce the bullpen, had a tough Double-A debut (four runs in 12/3 innings). Aaron Kurcz allowed two runs in 11/3 innings, but still got his first save.
NOTES: Betts continues his impressive statistics, improving to a .407 average, .459 on-base percentage and 1.110 OPS. He has 10 stolen bases in 11 attempts … Designated hitter Sean Coyle singled in the first inning and then left the game after tweaking a hamstring muscle … Sea Dogs infielder Heiker Meneses sported a brace on his sprained right wrist, which he injured on a slide in Sunday’s game … The announced paid attendance was 2,645.
Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or at: