READING, Pa. — So close.

The Portland Sea Dogs nearly turned a lopsided game into a victory Sunday afternoon. Trailing 7-0, the Sea Dogs rallied for seven runs in the last four innings, but the Reading Fightin Phils held on for an 8-7 win at First Energy Stadium.

With Reading clinging to an 8-6 lead, Portland’s Aneury Tavarez led off the ninth with a double, moved to third on a fly ball and scored on Marco Hernandez’s two-out single. Hernandez then stole second and took third on a throwing error. Carlos Asuaje worked a walk, but Jantzen Witte struck out to end the game.

Portland (26-44) had scored 12 runs in its previous five games. Sunday, the Sea Dogs produced 14 hits – nine over the last five innings.

“We came back from 7-0 and had the (tying) run at third,” said Sea Dogs Manager Billy McMillon. “It was great for us to rally and we also outhit them, having most of our hits late in the game.

“We needed one or two runs earlier.”

The Sea Dogs scored three runs in the sixth, and David Chester led off the seventh with a solo homer, his sixth of the season. Danny Bethea singled home Tavarez and Cole Sturgeon later in the seventh, narrowing the gap to 8-6.

An inning earlier, Sturgeon started Portland’s comeback with a double that scored Reed Gragnani. Bethea followed with an RBI single and eventually scored on  Hernandez’s infield hit.

Portland starter Mike Augliera (2-11), looking for his first win since May 25 when he defeated Reading 8-2, lasted just 31/3 innings. He was pulled after Aaron Altheer’s RBI single made it 5-0. Art Charles greeted reliever Kyle Kraus with a two-run single.

Augliera was charged with seven runs – five earned – on nine hits and one walk.

“Mike needs to keep the ball down,” said McMillon. He has struggled with some big innings all year. But we have been hurt by teams having one big inning all year.”

Chester’s fielding error at first base on what could have been an inning-ending double-play grounder allowed Reading to score three runs in the third.

Portland loaded the bases in the first inning when Reading starter Jesse Biddle walked Asuaje, gave up a single to Witte and hit Chester. But Oscar Tejeda grounded into a double play to end the threat.

The Sea Dogs had a runner on base in each of the next three innings, including runners at first and second in the fourth, but they couldn’t capitalize off Biddle (7-1), who walked five in his five-inning outing. Portland left eight men on base through five innings