ALTOONA, Pa. — Scoring early and adding on Tuesday night, the Portland Sea Dogs cruised to a 5-1 victory against the Altoona Curve before a crowd of 4,522 fans at Peoples Natural Gas Field.
The path to victory was a simple one: Combine good pitching with solid hitting and sound defense.
The Sea Dogs jumped on left-hander Joely Rodriguez early.
Singles by Derrik Gibson and Deven Marrero, an RBI double by Blake Swihart, an RBI groundout by Sean Coyle, an RBI single by a former Curve player, Stefan Welch, and just like that Portland held a 3-0 advantage.
“Getting hits from those first three guys got us going,” said Sea Dogs Manager Billy McMillon. “And I can’t say enough about our defense. We did a good job of taking care of the ball. Our only error was on a pickoff attempt at second base. The guys just did a heck of a job.”
Already up 3-0, the Sea Dogs added on in the third with a run, and again it was Gibson and Marrero who led the way.
Gibson singled to left, stole second and sprinted home on a single to center by Marrero.
Left-hander Brian Johnson, who started for the Sea Dogs, worked six innings, allowing one earned run, walking one and striking out six.
“I think Brian Johnson pretty well set the tone,” said McMillon. “He threw a lot of strikes, got ahead of hitters and that led to some key outs.”
Gibson, who came in hitting 12 of 26 over his last seven games, finished 3 for 3 with two walks and scored twice.
David Chester, just promoted to the Sea Dogs from the Class A Salem Red Sox, added three hits, including a double and a run batted in.
“(Gibson) has been swinging the bat well,” said McMillon. “Today was the first day for Chester, and for him to go out there and contribute the way he did tonight was big for us.”
McMillon was quick to point out that the entire roster has contributed to a 42-22 record, which is the best in the Eastern League.
“All of the guys, one through nine, have done a good job and the guys on the bench have also made big contributions,” said McMillon. “When (the bench guys) were asked to go out there and do something, they did. It has been fun to watch.”
The Sea Dogs completed their scoring in the sixth inning when Coyle singled to center, moved to second on a wild pitch by Rodriguez, then scampered home on a single to center field by Chester.
The teams will meet again at 7 p.m. Wednesday at People Natural Gas Field.
NOTES: Left-hander Felix Doubront was assigned to the Portland roster by the parent Boston Red Sox. Doubront, who is is on a major league rehab assignment, has made one apearance with Portland this season, allowing two runs in four innings. … Johnson, who made his seventh Double-A start, was skipped in his previous scheduled start. … Johnson entered the game with a 2-1 record accompanied by an outstanding 2.04 earned-run average.