TRENTON, N.J. – The night started so sweet for Portland right-hander Billy Buckner, but ended sour thanks to two indifferent pitches.

Buckner was dominant through five innings Saturday night before surrendering consecutive home runs in the sixth as the Trenton Thunder came back to defeat the Sea Dogs 5-1 at Waterfront Park.

Entering the sixth, Buckner (2-2) looked like someone who might be opening eyes in Boston as a candidate for the beleaguered bullpen, which entered Saturday night’s game against Cleveland ranked 22nd in the majors with a 4.13 ERA.

To that point he had allowed two hits in five scoreless innings, lowering his earned-run average in the last 22 innings to 1.64 with 29 strikeouts against four walks.

Buckner, who went 6-11 with a 6.25 ERA in 36 major league games (21 starts) between 2007-10 with Kansas City and Arizona, was combining a cutter with late movement with a nasty hook to face just two over the minimum through five.

But it all came apart quickly in the sixth with two pitches that hardly looked like the ones that baffled the Eastern League’s third-best hitting team to that point.

With one out and a man on second in the sixth, Buckner left a curve in the middle of the plate and Luke Murton made him pay, launching the ball way over the wall in left to put Trenton ahead, 2-1.

“I just kind of flipped it in there,” said Buckner, who is not related to a former Red Sox player, Bill Buckner. “I was trying to steal a strike there and he was ready for it.”

Perhaps frustrated while facing Trenton’s power-hitting Cody Johnson next, Buckner threw a low fastball right down the middle of the plate and Johnson drove it deep to center, and easily over a fence that is 30 feet high.

Buckner ended up allowing three runs on five hits in 51/3 innings, striking out five and walking three.

“I just felt like I was locating all of my pitches well through the first five and was keeping it down, moving it in and out, and I had a good rhythm with the catcher,” Buckner said.

“I’ll take the good from the first five innings and realize it’s there. You can learn from the sixth inning. I didn’t make great pitches and they put the barrel on the ball.”

After a slow start, Buckner has a very respectable 2.82 ERA in his last four starts.

He is feeling confident and hopes soon to progress up the organizational ladder, eventually landing back in the big leagues with the Red Sox.

“Physically and the way I’m pitching, I feel really close, better than I have the last two years,” he said.

“It’s all about getting back to the big leagues, and performing well and showing some consistency.”

Sea Dogs Manager Kevin Boles spoke highly of Buckner, both as a pitcher and an example to the club.

“He’s a guy who has the stuff and he’s on a mission,” Boles said.

“He’s hungry, he wants to get back up there. He does the work. He’s really been a great example for our guys. He’s got the stuff and the drive to do it. Every day he has a plan what he wants to do. He gets better every day.”