Tanner Houck was on a roll for the Portland Sea Dogs. Three straight wins. Just one earned run in 16 innings.

But when you’re a young pitcher in the minor leagues, part of the process is learning to cope when things aren’t working well. Like in Friday night’s 12-5 loss in the first game of a doubleheader to the Binghamton Rumble Ponies.

Houck, the Boston Red Sox 2017 first-round pick, struggled with his control and lacked zip on his slider on a damp, chilly night at Hadlock Field. Three leadoff walks hurt. Key pitches up in the zone hurt more as Binghamton touched him for five runs on nine hits in 5 1/3 innings.

Binghamton put Portland away with a seven-run seventh inning against reliever Andrew Schwaab. The first game was delayed more than two hours by rain.

The Sea Dogs won the second game, 5-3. They scored four runs in the second inning on RBI singles by Jerry Downs and Jeremy Rivera and a two-run double by Brett Netzer.

Daniel McGrath got his first win, allowing two earned runs in 5 2/3 innings. He gave up five hits, walked four and struck out four. Jordan Weems got his first save, pitching 1 1/3 innings without allowing a run.

“It just boiled down to I didn’t attack the zone as well as I have over the past few starts,” said Houck, a 6-foot-5, 22-year-old out of the University of Missouri. Houck said the raw conditions made it a “little tougher” but added, “I’ve grown up with this. I’ve thrown in this before.”

Trailing 3-0, Luke Tendler of Portland tied the game with his first home run of the season, a three-run shot to right. Portland went ahead 5-3 on a two-run homer by Rivera in the fourth. Rivera was activated Friday from the injured list after recovering from a broken nose caused by a bad-hop grounder.

Binghamton tied it in the fifth on a a two-out, two-run double high off the left-field wall by Barrett Barnes (3 for 4, 5 RBI). Instead of pulling Houck, Portland’s coaching staff sent him back out for the sixth inning.

“It’s about developing,” said pitching coach Paul Abbott. “He needs to learn how to pitch in those situations and how to get through them. If you’re never in those situations, you don’t learn.”

With two on and one out in the sixth, and after a lengthy mound visit from Abbott, Houck was victimized by a high chopper to short that ended up as an infield hit.

“You go out there and battle whether you have your best stuff or your worst stuff,” Houck said. “It really boils down to what you’re made of. I definitely made a few good pitches there at the end and got that last ground ball.”

Schwaab got Portland out of the bases-loaded situation in the sixth but in the seventh gave up five hits, two hit batters and was charged with all seven runs.

NOTES: Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia, on a major league rehabilitation assignment, didn’t play Friday and wasn’t at Hadlock Field during the games. He’s expected to play in Saturday’s 1 p.m. game. … C.J. Chatham had five hits in the two games to raise his average to .329. Chatham leads Portland in hits (28), doubles (9) and RBI (11).


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