Chris Murphy managed to pitch his way out of one jam.

The reigning Double-A Northeast League Pitcher of the Week couldn’t quite extricate himself from a second predicament, however.

As a result, the Portland Sea Dogs dropped their third straight, losing 7-3 to open a six-game series with the Reading Fightin Phils on Tuesday night at Hadlock Field before a crowd of 4,686.

A left-hander selected in the sixth round of the 2019 draft out of the University of San Diego, Murphy was coming off a one-hit performance over seven innings against Binghamton last week. He retired 20 in a row in that 11-0 victory.

Tuesday night marked his fourth appearance after being called up to the Sea Dogs from High-A Greenville and he struck out a career-high 11 batters, including three in a row after walking in a run in the second inning.

The Sea Dogs rallied to take a 2-1 lead in the third on a two-run homer from Cameron Cannon. Murphy retired nine in a row until a bunt single by Jack Conley opened the fifth, and things started to unravel.

An errant pickoff throw, a single up the middle and a two-run homer from Jhailyn Ortiz put Reading ahead 4-2. After two more two-out hits, the Phils led 5-2 and Murphy’s evening was over.

“Overall, I thought his stuff was good,” said Sea Dogs Manager Corey Wimberly. “He just ran into some bad luck with some defensive miscues.”

Reading added two more runs in the seventh after reliever Dominic LoBrutto had retired the first two batters. Sea Dogs catcher Ronaldo Hernandez responded with his team-leading 13th home run in the eighth to complete the scoring.

“If he can swing at strikes and spit on balls, he’s going to hit,” Wimberly said of Hernandez. “Big strong guy, he’s got some thump.”

The game also featured two players on rehabilitation assignments from the parent Boston Red Sox. Utilityman Danny Santana, who is recovering from a groin injury, played five innings at first base and made three plate appearances. He grounded out and struck out batting left-handed and drew a walk batting right-handed.

Relief pitcher Ryan Brasier, who broke his hand in November and tore a calf muscle on the last day of spring training, first tried to come back in early June before being struck in the head by a line drive. His current rehab assignment started with five appearances in Triple-A Worcester in which he allowed nine hits and 10 earned runs in 4 2/3 innings.

In his Hadlock debut Tuesday night, he tossed a 1-2-3 sixth inning with a fastball that topped out at 96 mph. He also mixed in a slider and a curve. Only one of his eight pitches was a ball. He finished with a strikeout, a line out and a ground out.

“I’m starting to get in a good rhythm and starting to find my pitches and getting back to being comfortable on the mound, which is where I want to be,” said Brasier, who will remain in town and expects to throw again Thursday. “If the next one goes like tonight, I think it’ll be a good stay.”

Santana’s departure prompted an interesting defensive move. Ryan Fitzgerald shifted from shortstop to first and Grant Williams entered to play short. Until Tuesday, Fitzgerald had only played a little over one inning of first base as a professional, back in 2019, but his versatility and bat have the Red Sox viewing him as a candidate for a big-league utility role.

“It’s important not just for his development but to create value as a player,” Wimberly said. “It’s only going to help him as he goes forward.”

NOTES: Included in the attendance total were 107 dogs, as part of the season’s second Bark in the Park promotion. … Cannon’s home run was the 100th of the season for the Sea Dogs and traveled an estimated 422 feet. … Tuesday wasn’t Santana’s first visit to Hadlock Field. He played here in 2013 while with the New Britain Rock Cats, then the Double-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins. The Rock Cats moved to Hartford in 2016, became the Yard Goats and are now affiliated with the Colorado Rockies.


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