The Portland Sea Dogs got another strong performance from a starting pitcher Friday night, and finally got some hits to go with it.
The Sea Dogs managed to string together seven hits, but most came in key situations and were enough to propel them to a 5-1 victory against the Richmond Flying Squirrels before 6,194 at Hadlock Field.
It was only Portland’s second win in eight games, but enabled the team to tie the franchise record of 76 wins in a season as a minor league affiliate of the Boston Red Sox.
“I think the tone was set with (Eduardo) Rodriguez giving us six quality innings,” Sea Dogs Manager Bill McMillon said. “All of his pitches were working today – fastball, change-up and the little slider we saw. Getting ahead of hitters certainly helped, and once we scored some runs I think he pitched with a little more confidence.”
Rodriguez, a 21-year-old left-hander making his third solid start since coming from Baltimore in the Andrew Miller trade, seemed in charge the whole way.
He scattered eight hits but didn’t walk a batter and struck out seven over six innings He threw 68 of 95 pitches for strikes.
“He has a great fastball and was able to use it on both sides of the plate,” catcher Carson Blair said. “They had to start respecting the fastball, and once they started cheating (on) the fastball everything else played very well.”
The Sea Dogs took advantage of some shoddy defensive play to take a 2-0 lead in the third inning.
It started when center fielder Tyler Graham lost sight of Shannon Wilkerson’s shallow fly ball and it fell in for a hit. Wilkerson moved up on Mike Miller’s grounder to first, stole third on a pitch in the dirt and, following a walk to Keury De La Cruz, scored on Michael Almanzar’s sacrifice fly to right. After De La Cruz moved up on a wild pitch, Blair lined a single to center to bring him in.
Portland took a 3-0 lead in the fourth on a clutch hit by Miller. With two outs, Heiker Meneses sliced a double into the right-field corner. After Meneses stole third, Miller hooked a single into left to drive him in.
Richmond scored its run in the sixth.
With one out, Devon Harris blooped a single to center. After moving up on a grounder, he scored on Myles Schroder’s line single to center.
Portland took a 4-1 lead in the bottom of the inning. Stefan Welch led off with a walk, moved up on a wild pitch, went to third on a grounder and scored on Wilkerson’s sacrifice fly to right.
De La Cruz led off the bottom of the seventh with his fifth home run of the season, a line shot into the gap in right to complete the scoring.
“The last three or four games we haven’t been able to string together consecutive at-bats, where we got hits or walks,” McMillon said.
“Today we were able to do that. We were able to score some runs today.”
The Squirrels loaded the bases in the ninth with one out but closer Noe Ramirez, who started the inning, got out the jam by retiring the last two batters.