PORTLAND – It couldn’t have started worse Saturday night for the Portland Sea Dogs.

Starting pitcher Matt Barnes, a right-hander, took a line drive off his right wrist from leadoff batter Danny Santana. Barnes, after a visit from the trainers and coaches, tried a couple practice pitches and then left the game, the early diagnosis being a contusion.

To add insult to the injury, Santana ended up scoring, so Barnes took the loss as the New Britain Rock Cats rolled to a 9-4 win before a crowd of 5,658 at Hadlock Field.

Barnes (4-5) threw only four pitches.

“One of those things,” Barnes said, sporting a bump on his right wrist, complete with stitch marks from the baseball.

“I was able to do all the strength tests when I first came in. Hopefully, it looks worse than it is.”

Manager Kevin Boles was one of the first ones to visit Barnes on the mound.

“That ball squared him up pretty good,” Boles said. “He said he felt fine after throwing those couple of warm-up pitches. But we’re going to err on the side of caution, no doubt about it.”

The Sea Dogs (44-41) have lost three straight to the Rock Cats (43-44), following a six-game winning streak.

Two bright spots for the Sea Dogs were Garin Cecchini going 3 for 4 with a double, and Tony Thomas swatting a two-run triple.

As Barnes left while some fans were still finding their seats, reliever Noe Ramirez hurried his warm-up throws.

Ramirez gave up two RBI doubles in the first inning and Eddie Rosario’s home run in the third. Mike McCarthy relieved in the fourth and allowed six runs over three innings.

New Britain led 9-0 after the top of the sixth. Portland was just trying to save its pitching staff for the remaining two games before the All-Star break.

The Rock Cats, meanwhile, were enjoying an abbreviated gem from D.J. Baxendale (2-2), a 10th-round draft pick last year out of the University of Arkansas.

Baxendale, coming off the disabled list, was on a limited pitch count. He needed only 55 pitches to work through five innings, holding Portland to three hits and no walks.

B.J. Hermsen relieved Baxendale in the sixth, and Portland pounced for four runs. Derrik Gibson walked and Cecchini singled to left. With one out, Thomas drove a line drive to deep center and did not stop until he was on third base.

Thomas scored on a passed ball. Travis Shaw then scored on J.C. Linares’ double.

Sea Dogs reliever Miguel Celestino contained the Rock Cats with three hitless innings, saving the rest of the bullpen.

Cecchini is enjoying his stay in Double-A so far. Through 14 games, he’s batting .412 with six doubles and one home run. He has a .588 on-base percentage and a .524 slugging average for a 1.112 OPS.

“It’s a quality approach,” Boles said. “He’s managing the strike zone and hitting to all areas of the field.”

NOTES: Barnes’ ERA inched up to 5.32. Thomas now leads the Sea Dogs with 55 RBI, two more than Michael Almanzar. … Portland and New Britain have two more games this series, at 1 p.m. Sunday and noon Monday.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: @ClearTheBases


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