PORTLAND – The Sea Dogs closed out their second winning month in succession with a 7-3 victory over the Altoona Curve Friday night at Hadlock Field.

Knuckleballer Charlie Haeger (2-2) took a one-hit shutout into the seventh inning, and the Sea Dogs received home runs from Shannon Wilkerson, J.C. Linares and Xander Bogaerts.

The Sea Dogs enter June having gone 14-9 in April and 16-14 in May.

Altoona is the first Western Division club to visit Hadlock this season. The Curve fell behind 5-0 before pulling within two in the seventh. That was before Bogaerts, taking a day off from shortstop to be Portland’s designated hitter, sent a 2-0 fastball into the net in left-center for a two-run homer, his third of the week and fifth of the season.

“He’s learning a lot about how this league is pitching him,” said Sea Dogs Manager Kevin Boles. “He’s having to earn his fastballs. They’re pitching him off-speed when he’s ahead in the count.”

Bogaerts drew walks in his first two trips to the plate. He said earlier in the season he might have chased some of those pitches, so eager was he to hit something hard.

“I didn’t know that they’d throw me differently than other guys,” Bogaerts said. “After the first few games, I was like, ‘Hey, why am I getting all these (breaking pitches) and other guys are getting so many fastballs?’ So then I made adjustments and started recognizing it better.”

His strike zone, that is. Young hitters don’t always know theirs well enough, said former Red Sox catcher and current Sea Dogs batting coach Rich Gedman.

“Look at it from a pitcher-catcher relationship standpoint,” Gedman said. “If we’ve got a hitter who’s up there swinging, we don’t have to be in the strike zone; we can get him out with balls.”

Patient hitters make pitchers throw strikes, which is what Boles means by Bogaerts earning his fastballs.

“When he gets a pitch he can drive,” Boles said. “Tonight’s an example of what he can do.”

Friday night was also an example of what Haeger can do when his knuckleball has late movement. Fifteen of his 19 outs came on either grounders or strikeouts.

“It was nice to feel some sweat finally,” Haeger said of the game-time temperature of 90 degrees. “It’s easier to get loose. I’d prefer it to be hot like that every game.”

Coming off elbow reconstructive surgery, the 29-year-old Haeger missed all of 2012 but is rounding into the form that carried him to the majors for five seasons. This marked the second time in four starts he held a team to two hits in at least five innings pitched.

“It’s getting better, no question about that,” he said. “My body is starting to respond really well and I’m feeling strong.”

Haeger didn’t allow a hit until Mel Rojas Jr. led off the fourth with a clean single to right.

Through six innings, the only other Curve baserunners came courtesy of four Haeger walks, and the Sea Dogs erased two of them with double plays. Entering the seventh, Haeger had faced only two batters over the minimum.

“Our defensive play, especially on the infield, has been real strong since we’ve been home,” Boles said. “We had some bumps in the road when we were on the road, but we’ve been taking care of the baseball and protecting our pitchers. When we get a double-play ball we’ve been able to execute.”

Haeger opened the seventh with his fifth strikeout before Andrew Lambo knocked a knuckleball into the Sea Dogs bullpen — reliever Rafael Perez caught it — for his 12th homer of the season. After plunking the next batter, Haeger was done for the evening.

The Curve tacked on two more after Haeger’s departure.

The Sea Dogs had built a 5-0 lead through six innings. Back-to-back doubles in the fourth from Thomas and Michael Almanzar made it 2-0. Solo homers by Wilkerson, his third, and Linares, his second, doubled the lead. Heiker Meneses added an RBI triple in the sixth.

NOTES: Paid attendance was announced as 5,176. … James McDonald of the parent Pirates is scheduled to make a rehab start for the Curve. If all goes according to plan, he’ll throw five innings or 80 pitches. On Monday in Altoona, he didn’t make it out of the first inning, walking four and allowing a homer. The Pirates placed him on the disabled list in early May with right-shoulder stiffness. … A mid-game substitution at second base gave Altoona a double-play combo of Gift Ngoepe and Drew Maggi. Wonder whether Curve management is considering an O. Henry night. … Ngoepe, 23, is a switch-hitting Sotho tribesman, the first black South African signed to a pro baseball contract, and the subject of a fascinating 2009 Sports Illustrated profile by Gary Smith.

Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at:

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