The dog days of August are upon the Sea Dogs.

On Tuesday night – when more than a hundred actual canines showed up as part of a Bark in the Park promotion – Portland Manager Corey Wimberly lamented the low energy level of his team. He called it one of those days where “we’ll have to regroup and come back with a better mindset tomorrow.”

The Dogs showed more scrap Wednesday night, but still came up short. For the second night in a row, they slipped further behind in the postseason picture by losing to a club more than 20 games under .500.

The visiting Reading Fightin Phils beat Portland 9-7 Wednesday night before a crowd of 4,107 at Hadlock Field. The Sea Dogs (55-40) are still looking up at three teams (Akron, Bowie, Somerset) in a playoff race where only two will compete for the league title.

“I thought we picked it up late in the game,” Wimberly said. “It was just one of those things where a game can be won or lost in any inning.”

Reading (38-60) amassed seven hits against Sea Dogs starter Frank German (3-9) and four against reliever Matthew Kent before Rio Gomez and Joan Martinez combined to retire the final 10 batters.

A two-out, broken-bat double by Madison Stokes put Reading ahead 3-0 in the third. The Phils made it 4-0 in the fifth on another broken-bat hit, a single by Josh Stephen in the fifth.

Until that point, the Sea Dogs had done little damage with their bats aside from a Triston Casas foul ball that shattered a skybox window (the first of two that broke Wednesday night). That changed with a three-run homer over the tall wall in left by second baseman Cameron Cannon, who had two of Portland’s six hits.

A second-round draft choice in 2019, Cannon has homered in three of his last four games after hitting eight in 74 games with Class A Greenville. He’s only been with the Sea Dogs for two weeks.

“I see a guy who’s finally getting his feet wet in Double A and starting to make adjustments,” said Wimberly, noting Cannon’s opposite-field single in the third after Reading starter Adam Leverett (1-5) had gone through the Portland order without allowing a hit. “He’s getting better and better every single day. I think the game’s starting to slow down for him.”

Reading broke open a 4-3 contest with a five-run sixth that unraveled just after Kent nearly picked off a runner at first base with two out and the bases loaded. Instead of escaping the jam, Kent continued pitching to Stephen, who hit a hard grounder that glanced off the glove of Cannon in shallow right field and opened the floodgates for four more runs.

“Definitely a makeable play,” Wimberly said. “Just one of those things where we didn’t convert the chance into an out and it ended up hurting us in the long run.”

Even trailing 9-3, the Sea Dogs made things interesting with a four-run rally in the eighth. After a pair of walks, Hudson Potts hit a drive to right center that was mishandled at the wall. Devlin Granberg drove in a run with an infield grounder and catcher Kole Cottam followed with a two-run homer to make it 9-7.

Reading closer Brian Marconi struck out the side in the ninth to earn his 10th save.

NOTES: Neither of the two Red Sox players on rehabilitation assignments with the Sea Dogs – utilityman Danny Santana and reliever Ryan Brasier – played Wednesday. Both are expected to see action Thursday. … Shortstop Ryan Fitzgerald was ejected by plate umpire Louie Krupa after being called out on strikes in the third inning. … Outfielder Pedro Castellanos (oblique strain) ran sprints Wednesday and will soon begin swinging a bat. He remains on the injured list.


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