PORTLAND – Keyed by a Stephen Drew double in the eighth inning, the Portland Sea Dogs finally showed some offensive life Thursday night.

But Portland still lost, even with its three-run rally in the eighth. The Reading Fightin Phils beat Portland 7-5 before 6,396 at Hadlock Field.

Sebastian Valle knocked in five runs with two home runs for Reading.

Drew, the Boston Red Sox shortstop, is making a rehab appearance with the Sea Dogs and served as the designated hitter. He went 1 for 4.

Michael Almanzar singled in two runs and Garin Cecchini tripled for the Sea Dogs.

The five runs were more than they scored in the past six games combined, but Portland (46-51) still has lost seven straight and 10 of 11.

“It was good to get some runs on the board,” Manager Kevin Boles said. “Hopefully that’s a positive sign for things in the future.”

Reading, the last-place team in the Eastern League’s East Division, improved to 41-55.

Terry Doyle (0-3) took the loss for Portland in his third start. He gave up a three-run homer to Valle over the Citgo sign in left field in the second inning.

Doyle’s pitch count ran up to 65 pitches after three innings, but he pitched three more innings, using a total of 100 pitches. He gave up eight hits in all and three runs. His ERA remained at 4.50.

“He settled in. Pitched a quality ballgame,” Boles said. “Made one mistake in that second inning. Left a ball up.”

Reading starter Jesse Biddle (4-9), the Philadelphia Phillies’ No. 1 prospect according to Baseball America, finally solved the Sea Dogs, holding them to two runs, one earned, on three hits. He struck out seven over seven innings.

Biddle lost his previous two starts against Portland, allowing a total of nine earned runs. He was in sync Thursday.

Cecchini tripled to right-center in the fourth inning, then scored when the relay throw from shortstop Edgar Dunn sailed into the Phils’ dugout. Almanzar later singled, making it an earned run.

Cecchini went 1 for 3 with a walk, dropping his average to .341 with a .451 on-base percentage.

Peter Hissey, who was robbed twice by leaping catches in the outfield, singled with two outs in the fifth, stole second and scored on a throwing error on Christian Vazquez’s grounder, cutting the deficit to 3-2.

Jeremy Kehrt relieved Doyle and was cruising until Albert Cartwright’s two-out triple in the eighth.

The ball was just out of the reach of left fielder Kolbrin Vitek, who banged his head against the wall and eventually left the game, feeling dizzy.

Kehrt got a grounder from the next batter, but shortstop Heiker Meneses’ wild throw allowed Cartwright to score. Then Valle stepped up and hit a two-run homer for a 6-2 lead.

In the bottom of the eighth, a Vazquez single and Cecchini walk preceded Drew’s deep line drive to the right field-corner, scoring Vazquez.

Almanzar singled home Cecchini and Drew. Almanzar stole second with one out. But Tony Thomas and pinch-hitter Ryan Dent both struck out.

Kelly Dugan’s RBI double in the ninth gave Reading a 7-5 lead.

The teams play again at 7 p.m. Friday, when Drew is scheduled to play shortstop for the Sea Dogs.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: @ClearTheBases


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