PORTLAND – The Washington Nationals and Boston Red Sox matched prospects on the mound Thursday night at Hadlock Field, when Harrisburg visited the Sea Dogs.

Harrisburg right-hander A.J. Cole made his Double-A debut a good one as the Senators edged Portland 2-1 before a crowd of 5,821.

Cole gave up one run on three hits over seven innings. Travis Shaw prevented a shutout with a seventh-inning home run.

Matt Barnes (5-7) took the loss for Portland despite allowing one run and two hits over five innings. Barnes, the top Red Sox pitching prospect according to Baseball America, showcased a fastball reaching 95 mph and an occasional killer curveball.

Barnes, 23, struck out eight but his command wasn’t always there, walking three and exiting after 92 pitches (53 strikes).

“Overall it was pretty good,” Barnes said. “I was not happy with fastball command. It was in and out, kind of spotty. Mechanics would get out of sync and then get back in.”

Barnes had a shutout going until a leadoff walk in the fifth inning and a one-out RBI triple by Destin Hood down the right-field line.

Harrisburg added an unearned run in the sixth on catcher Christian Vazquez’s throwing error. His attempted pickoff throw to third base sailed into left field.

Two runs was enough for Cole, 21, who received a $2 million bonus from the Nationals after the 2010 draft.

Cole was actually traded to the A’s in 2011 — he’s listed as Oakland’s top pitching prospect by Baseball America — before being traded back before this season.

Cole used a fastball, curveball and outstanding change-up to strike out six. He silenced the Sea Dogs until two outs in the seventh.

Shaw crushed a 94 mph fastball into the right-field bullpen, his 12th homer of the year, tying him with Michael Almanzar for the team lead.

Tyler Herron relieved Cole and picked up his second save with two scoreless innings.

NOTES: Thursday night’s game was delayed 44 minutes by rain.

Eric Fox, a former Sea Dogs manager, is back at Hadlock this weekend as hitting coach for Harrisburg. Fox, 49, was Portland’s manager in its last year as a Marlins affiliate (2002). He is in his second season with Harrisburg.

The Senators’ backup catcher, Jeff Howell, played with the Sea Dogs for 10 games in 2011. He signed with the Nationals the next year.

While Vazquez made a throwing error to bring a run in, he also threw out two base-stealers. He has thrown out 47 percent this season (37 of 78). .

Garin Cecchini of Portland went 2 for 4 and has a .336 batting average.

Friday night’s game begins at 6 p.m. with fireworks following.

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

[email protected]

Twitter: ClearTheBases


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