May 25, 2011

Sea Dogs put stop to losing streak

Portland turns the tables against the Eastern League's top team to halt its four-game losing skid.

By Kevin Thomas
Staff Writer

PORTLAND - The Eastern League team with the best record visited the team with the worst mark on Monday night.

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Jeremy Hazelbaker slides safely into second base for his first Double-A steal after nabbing 63 bases last year in Greenville. Hazelbaker went 2 for 3 in his first game in Portland, including an RBI double in the fourth.

Photos by Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

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Stephen Fife delivers a pitch Monday as he picks up his third win in 14 games by allowing one run in six innings to New Hampshire.

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WHO: Sea Dogs (Michael Lee 1-3) vs. N.H. Fisher Cats (Rey Gonzalez 5-1)

WHEN: 6 p.m.

WHERE: Hadlock Field

TICKETS: 2,000 available

Naturally, the last-place team won in a breeze.

The Portland Sea Dogs pounded pitching prospect Zach Stewart for a seven-run lead and enjoyed a 7-3 victory over the Hampshire Fisher Cats Monday night at Hadlock Field.

Will Middlebrooks' two-run homer over the left field wall highlighted a four-run third inning.

Tim Federowicz knocked in two runs. Alex Hassan was 2 for 4 with a one-run double, improving his team-leading numbers (.360 average, 26 RBI).

New Sea Dogs outfielder Jeremy Hazelbaker enjoyed his Hadlock debut with a 2-for-3 night, including an RBI double, while scoring two runs.

The Sea Dogs (13-27) stopped a four-game losing streak and improved to 13-27. New Hampshire (27-16) still leads the Northern Division.

"The guys grinded it out," Sea Dogs Manager Kevin Boles said. "The guys had a tough road trip, but they had a good workday (Monday) and put together a nice approach."

Portland won for only the third time in 14 games -- with all three victories belonging to starter Stephen Fife (5-2, 2.41 ERA).

Fife allowed six hits and one earned run over six innings, while striking out six.

"He was sinking the ball when he needed to, keeping the ball off the plate when he needed to," said Federowicz, the catcher. "He had a great curveball tonight. Got ahead of nearly every guy."

Reliever Kyle Fernandes (1.69 ERA) followed Fife with 12/3 innings of scoreless relief. Santo Luis gave up one run in the ninth.

Fernandes, one of the clubhouse characters, performed a pregame ceremony for the team, complete with candles, speech and a "sacrifice" of baseball gear -- a way to rid the Sea Dogs of their losing ways.

"Threw some cleats out, some bats. Hopefully that will work," Fernandes said. "Something has to work."

Fife said the ceremony created "some fun and some good laughs, trying to lighten it up a little bit and go back to doing the things we know we can."

New Hampshire's Stewart (3-3), the Blue Jays' sixth-best prospect, according to Baseball America, gave up all seven runs in four innings. Middlebrooks swatted an 88 mph fastball for his sixth home run, and a 5-0 Portland lead.

Back-to-back RBI doubles by Hazelbaker and Hassan in the fourth finished the Portland scoring.


NOTES: Hazelbaker, who stole 63 bases last year in Greenville, took second in the first inning for his first Double-A steal. Federowicz picked off a runner at first base in the first inning. Shortstop Ryan Dent, on the disabled list since May 1 with an injured left hamstring, fielded grounders and took part in running drills. He is at least a week away The announced paid attendance was 4,504.

Two doggie events highlight today's promotions. Fans with "Bark in the Park" tickets ($9) can bring their dogs to the game, take part in a parade at 5:15 p.m. and sit in a special "Bark in the Park" section of the ballpark. B.Y.O.B. (bring your own bag). Also tonight will be the Frisbee-catching dogs of Mike Piazza (no relation to the ballplayer).


Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at:

Twitter: ClearTheBases


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