The Portland Sea Dogs pounded 13 hits but went 2 for 10 with runners in scoring position in a 3-2 loss to the Hartford Yard Goats at Hadlock Field on Wednesday afternoon.

Twelve of the hits were singles, with Joey Curletta’s leadoff double in the sixth inning the lone extra-base hit for the Sea Dogs, who stranded 10 runners.

“We probably put a little bit more pressure on ourselves with runners in scoring position and made the situation bigger than it was,” said Portland Manager Joe Oliver. “We had plenty of opportunities to crack the game open, but it just fell short.”

Bryan Mata, the top pitching prospect for the Boston Red Sox, took the loss despite six strong innings in his fifth start for Portland.

The hard-throwing right-hander from Venezuela allowed two runs, one earned, on four hits, striking out four and walking two. His Double-A record fell to 1-3, but his ERA dropped from 5.03 to 4.21.

Sea Dogs reliever Jordan Weems delivers a pitch against Hartford. Weems pitched two innings and allowed three hits and a run. He struck out one, and walked none. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

“I don’t think he had his best stuff today, but I liked how he competed,” said Sea Dogs pitching coach Paul Abbott. “For a 20-year-old who has the ability to walk through lineups and dominate them, he impressed me with the way he went about his business.”

Mata’s fastball was clocked between 94-98 mph. He interspersed his two- and four-seam heater with a change-up, slider and cut fastball.

“He’s starting to figure some things out,” Oliver said. “He gets past the first couple innings and usually settles into a really good groove and finds his momentum and his pitches, but they’re better hitters than what he saw in the high-A (league). He’s making good adjustments.”

Hartford starting pitcher Matt Dennis kept the Sea Dogs scoreless through six innings, despite surrendering nine hits. He walked none and struck out six.

Portland scored two runs in the seventh inning off reliever Justin Lawrence, who issued a walk to leadoff batter Brett Netzer. Netzer advanced to second on a fielder’s choice groundout and Jarren Duran followed with his fourth single of the day. But Netzer was thrown out at the plate by left fielder Tyler Nevin.

Joey Curletta of the Sea Dogs slides safely into second base before being tagged by Hartford’s Alan Trejo. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

The Sea Dogs kept the rally alive as C.J. Chatham reached on a single and Bobby Dalbec was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Curletta slapped a single to left-center to score Duran and Chatham before Josh Tobias struck out to end the inning.

In the ninth, lead-off hitter Jhon Nunez was hit by a pitch. But Duran, who went 4 for 5, failed to lay down a bunt that would have moved Nunez to second base, striking out instead. Then Chatham flied out to right and Dalbec struck out to end the game.

“I’ve gotten that bunt down so many times in my college career and my professional career. I feel like I let my team down with not getting it down today,” said Duran. “It was an even game, but we just struggled to score runs when it counted.”

The Yard Goats jumped to an early lead in the second. Luis Castro reached on a walk, advanced on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a bloop single from Mylz Jones.

Hartford made it 2-0 in the third. Carlos Herrera led off with a single and went to second when Manny Melendez reached on a throwing error by Nunez on a bunt. Arvicent Perez sacrificed them both over, and Herrera scored on Tyler Nevin’s fly to center.

The Yard Goats added another run off Sea Dogs reliever Jordan Weems in the top of the seventh before Portland cut the lead to one in the bottom of the inning.

Hartford right-hander Scott Griggs worked out of the jam in the ninth to record his seventh save.

NOTES: Wednesday’s crowd was announced at 7,368. … Portland won 2 of 3 in the series after sweeping Tuesday’s  doubleheader. … The Sea Dogs fell to 16-18 in the second half of the season. … Harrisburg visits Hadlock Field for a four-game series starting Thursday, which is a Mookie Betts bobblehead giveaway.

 

UPDATE: This story was updated at 11:48 a.m. on July 25 to correct the sequence of events in the bottom of the ninth inning.


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