PORTLAND – Today is one of those rare days for the Portland Sea Dogs — a complete day off with no game or travel scheduled.

After Sunday, the Dogs need it.

The Sea Dogs surrendered season-high totals in runs (16) and hits (18) as the Richmond Flying Squirrels rolled to a 16-8 win at Hadlock Field.

The hometown crowd did have something to savor besides sitting in the sun and 75-degree comfort. First baseman Anthony Rizzo provided the highlights.

Rizzo, celebrating his 21st birthday, went 4 for 5, including a three-run homer that cleared the 56-foot high pavilion in right field. Sea Dogs officials estimated that the ball traveled 490 feet.

Considered one of the top prospects for the Boston Red Sox, Rizzo, 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, is batting .272 with 14 home runs and 55 RBI in 81 games with the Sea Dogs. Including his time with Class A Salem, Rizzo leads all Red Sox minor leaguers with 19 home runs.

Since July 15, Rizzo has established himself as one of the league’s top hitters, batting .337 with five home runs and 23 RBI.

“He’s been doing a lot of work with (hitting coach Dave Joppie) at using his legs and staying through the ball,” Portland Manager Arnie Beyeler said. “It’s starting to pay off.

“He’s a big kid who can really drive the baseball. It comes off his bat a little different than others. When he gets to a ball, it jumps pretty good.”

But Rizzo could not offset the average-inflating day enjoyed by the Flying Squirrels. They racked Portland pitching for two home runs and eight doubles, putting a smile on the face of hitting coach Russ Morman, who held the same position with the Sea Dogs for four years (2004-07).

“The coach didn’t take one swing. It was all those guys,” Morman said. “They had great ABs today.”

Portland starter Stephen Fife (6-4) had his fourth straight sub-par outing, giving up 11 runs on 13 hits over 3 1/3 innings.

Fife was named to the Eastern League All-Star Game and had a 3.58 ERA on July 18. Since then, he has allowed 25 runs over 18 1/3 innings.

“I don’t have a whole lot of explanation for what happened,” Fife said. “Somehow, I have to find a way to stop the bleeding when it happens.

“Tough day on the bump. I have to figure something out.”

The Sea Dogs (54-60) are 4-13 in their last 17 games and remain in fifth place in the Eastern League’s East Division.

NOTES: There is hope that shortstop Jose Iglesias will be playing with the Sea Dogs when the team returns to Portland on Aug. 17. Iglesias, out since late May with a thumb injury, remains on a rehab assignment with short-season Lowell. Iglesias took infield practice for the first time Saturday. Once he plays in the field for the Spinners, he should rejoin the Sea Dogs. …

Former Sea Dogs catcher Juan Apodaca has landed with the Akron Aeros. Apodaca, 23, was traded to the Cleveland Indians last week for future considerations. He was assigned to Double-A Akron, which Portland will not be playing again this season. … Recently promoted Yamaico Navarro stroked his first Triple-A home run for Pawtucket on Sunday. …

Sunday’s paid attendance was 6,804 … After today’s off day, the Sea Dogs fly out of Portland on Tuesday morning for a six-game trip to Bowie, Md., and Richmond, Va.


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

[email protected]


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