The Boston Red Sox have sent their share of early-round draft picks to the outfield at Hadlock Field.

Then there’s Luke Tendler, 27, unknown to most Red Sox fans.

Yet there he was Sunday, mobbed by his teammates and then honoring a sudden demand for autographs.

Hitting a pair of two-run homers, including a walk-off blast in the ninth, will do that.

Tendler swatted a slider from Aaron Brown over the right-field wall to give the Portland Sea Dogs a 4-3 win over the Reading Fightin Phils at Hadlock. The win prevented a sweep by the Phils and halted a three-game losing streak.

Tate Matheny reached four times with a single, two walks and a key hit by pitch in the ninth. Matheny was on base for both Tendler blasts.

Tendler’s first homer gave the Sea Dogs a 2-1 lead in the seventh. Then came the winner.

“He threw a slider earlier and came back with it,” Tendler said. “I tried to stay through it and put my A-swing on it … It feels awesome. It’s been an up-and-down year all season.”

Tendler was a 29th-round draft pick of the Texas Rangers in 2014 out of North Carolina A&T. Stalled in the Rangers’ system, he was grabbed by the Red Sox in the minor league Rule 5 draft before last season, and he batted .273 for the Sea Dogs in 2018. This season, Tendler is batting .234 with eight home runs.

“I just keep working, pushing hard, and try to come to the yard with a positive attitude,” Tendler said. “The goal is obviously to move up and get to the big leagues. One step at a time.”

Sea Dogs starter Kutter Crawford made his Double-A debut, allowing one run over six innings. Crawford, 23, was just promoted from advanced Class A Salem, where he was a Carolina League All-Star. He mixed his 92 mph fastball and cut fastball, allowing five hits and three walks while striking out four. He usually stayed ahead of hitters, with 17 of 25 first-pitch strikes.

“I felt good mechanically,” Crawford said. “Just tried pounding the zone. I knew I would get in trouble if I fiddled around the zone.”

It was a pitching duel early between 2017 draft picks. Crawford, a 16th-round pick, is out of Florida Gulf Coast University – the program that produced Red Sox ace Chris Sale. Reading left-hander Damon Jones, a 17th-round choice of the Phillies out of Washington State, threw six shutout innings, allowing two hits and three walks, striking out seven.

One of the Phillies’ more celebrated prospects, corner infielder Alec Bohm, the third overall draft pick last year, broke up Crawford’s shutout with a one-out homer in the sixth. Bohm crushed a hanging curveball over the left-field wall.

“He got hurt on the curve. It was the one mistake he made,” Sea Dogs pitching coach Paul Abbott said. “He had a great mix. Threw strikes. Changed speeds. Elevated. Did a nice job.”

Mickey Moniak of Reading made it 2-2 with an eighth-inning home run off reliever Kevin Lenik. In the ninth, Henri Latrigue’s RBI single off Adam Lau (1-2) gave Reading a 3-2 lead.

With one out in the bottom of the ninth, Matheny faced an 0-2 count against Brown (2-3). Brown came in with a fastball and Matheny took it on the left bicep, setting up Tendler’s bomb.

“We’ll take the hit by pitch any day if it’s going to lead to a walk-off home run,” Matheny said. “It’s didn’t feel great, but winning feels better.”

NOTES: The announced paid attendance was a sellout (7,368). … The first 1,000 fans arriving for Monday’s 7 p.m. game will receive a Brock Holt bobblehead doll, featuring Holt on a bicycle (celebrating his cycle against the Yankees in last year’s playoffs).


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