June 4, 2011

Dogs still look better in June

Portland beats Altoona for its third straight win after a rough May that left the team well below .500.

By BILL ALBRIGHT Special to the Press Herald

ALTOONA, Pa. — For a team that started the day 20 games under the .500 mark, the Sea Dogs certainly didn't play like it.

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WHO: Sea Dogs (Alex Wilson 4-3) at Altoona Curve (Aaron Colla 4-1)

WHEN: 7 p.m.

Portland took control early and steadily pulled away from Altoona for a 7-2 victory before a crowd of 4,124 at Blair County Ballpark. It was the Sea Dogs' third straight win.

"We have a resilient bunch of guys and we had a real rough May," said Sea Dogs Manager Kevin Boles. "But now that is behind us and, hopefully, June and the rest of the season will be better to us."

Jeremy Hazelbaker got the Sea Dogs off and running with a leadoff home run, sending a 1-2 fastball from right-hander Jared Hughes next to the roller coaster in nearby Lakemont Park for his first home run with Portland.

"When I got behind in the count, I needed to work the middle of the field," said Hazelbaker. "When I got behind, I stuck with my plan and I was able to make good contact with it."

The Sea Dogs added two runs in the second, and again it was Hazelbaker doing the damage. He lined a two-run double along the left-field line, scoring Tim Federowicz and Jorge Padron.

"With the bases loaded, I was just trying to put the ball out there and let them run a little bit," he said. "(Hughes) came in on me hard and when I got behind, I again was thinking middle of the field. The next pitch I got was a fastball a little up and out. I just went with it and was able to put a good swing on it."

The Curve got a run in the third inning, but the Sea Dogs added single runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth for a 6-1 lead. They finished with 18 hits.

Right-hander Jeremy Kehrt made his second start of the season for the Sea Dogs and was strong from the outset.

He retired his first eight batters before an error led to the Curve's run in the third inning. He worked 52/3 innings, allowing one unearned run on six hits and one walk, striking out three.

"It was only my second start so I just treated it like coming out of the bullpen," said Kehrt. "I tried not to change anything so I didn't have to think about something else.

"My two-seam fastball was working really good and that allowed me to throw my change-up, and that made it easy for me in the first couple of innings."

Boles liked what he saw from his starting pitcher.

"He is very efficient," said Boles. "He maintained his stuff in the stretch, and the big thing is that he pitched down in the zone. He had a real good tempo, his stuff was real good and he gave us what we needed two times in a row now."

Chih-Hsien Chiang went 4 for 5 for the Sea Dogs, with a pair of singles, a triple and a home run.

"(Chiang) is really coming along," said Boles.

"He was a little bit slow when the season started and he had some tightness in his lower back, which bothered him.

"Now he is starting to get healthy and we are starting to see what we thought he could do. We put him in the middle of our lineup and he has responded well."

NOTES: Portland activated right-hander Santo Luis from the temporary inactive list and placed right-hander Stolmy Pimentel on the disabled list retroactive to June 2 with a right-thigh contusion.


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