Keith Couch doesn’t hang many breaking balls.And Christian Walker doesn’t miss many.
Walker crushed his league-leading 16th home run Friday night to help the Bowie Baysox to a 6-4 win over the Portland Sea Dogs at Hadlock Field.
The loss was the first for Couch (7-1). He was his usual controlled self, walking one and throwing 60 of his 93 pitches for strikes.
But Bowie, the second-best hitting team in the Eastern League to Portland, touched Couch for 10 hits and four runs.
“He was around the strike zone,” Portland Manager Billy McMillon said. “That’s a good, veteran ball club over there. They put together some good at-bats.”
Walker, a first baseman and one of the Orioles’ top prospects, is batting .312. He also popped up and struck out against Couch.
“He had a good mix of stuff. He could throw anything in any count,” Walker said.
It was the first home run Couch allowed in 742/3 innings.
Walker is a former college teammate of Red Sox and former Sea Dogs center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. They stay in touch. Walker knows Bradley is scuffling at the plate but has seen him turn it around before.
“Everybody struggles,” Walker said. “It’s a matter of making adjustments and sticking to what he knows.”
The Sea Dogs struggled Friday, totaling only five hits, failing to take advantage of five errors. Portland left nine on, including the bases loaded in the eighth inning.
Jason Gurka got the start for Bowie in place of Tim Berry, who was called up to Baltimore. Gurka gave up two runs, both unearned, in 42/3 innings.
Portland got another unearned run in the sixth to close to 4-3, but made its two errors in the eighth, both throwing errors, by catcher Blake Swihart and reliever Robby Scott on bunts. That led to a pair of unearned runs for Bowie, and a 6-3 deficit.
Portland rallied in the bottom of the inning, sparked by Sean Coyle’s single. A grounder and error scored a run. And a walk loaded the bases with one out. Heiker Meneses flied out to shallow right field and Derrik Gibson struck out.
“We had a chance to push across some runs and we just didn’t,” McMillon said.
The Sea Dogs dropped to 40-21, still the best record in the league and still good enough for an eight-game lead over second-place Binghamton in the East Division. Bowie improved to 31-29.
NOTES: Sea Dogs outfielder Henry Ramos was having a breakout year, batting .326, until he fouled a pitch off his leg May 28. The news got worse this week when an MRI revealed a stress fracture in Ramos’ left tibia, shelving him for at least a month. … Couch’s ERA rose to 2.62, still eighth-best in the league. … Two of Bowie’s outfielder are former Sea Dogs – Ronald Bermudez and Chih-Hsien Chiang. Bermudez, 25, signed as a free agent with the Orioles before this season. Chiang, 26, was traded to the Mariners in 2011 and has been mostly in Double-A since, with the Rangers last year before joining the Orioles. … The announced paid attendance was 6,085. … Saturday is Faith and Family night. A contemporary Christian singer, Josh Wilson, will perform a pregame concert at 4:35 p.m., five minutes after the gates open. About 1,200 tickets remain for the game. … In Durham, North Carolina, a former Sea Dogs pitcher, Anthony Ranaudo, threw seven scoreless innings in Pawtucket’s 7-0 win over the Bulls. Ranaudo allowed two hits and struck out seven. Mookie Betts was 2 for 5 to up his average to .333.
Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or at: