MANCHESTER, N.H. — The Portland Sea Dogs used four homers and outstanding pitching to one-hit the New Hampshire Fisher Cats 7-1 Saturday night at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium.
The win marked the eighth in a row (first time since April 2008) and moved the Sea Dogs to 33-games above .500 (83-50) for the first time in franchise history.
Portland’s Brian Johnson began by retiring nine of the first 10 men he faced and striking out four along the way.
Portland’s offense got the ball rolling with two down in the second inning, courtesy of a Stefan Welch solo home run, his second in as many nights, and Portland held the 1-0 lead. The rally continued with three straight singles, the final of which, by Mike Miller, plated a second run and made it 2-0 Sea Dogs.
Keury De La Cruz made it 3-0 with another solo home run to right against New Hampshire starter Austin Bibens-Dirkx. The home run was De La Cruz’s seventh of the season.
Johnson (10-2) took the 3-0 lead and continued to roll. The lefty pitched around a leadoff walk and error in the fourth and retired the next eight in order.
Sean Coyle hit a leadoff home run in the fifth, a mammoth shot to right-center, and gave Portland the 4-0 lead. The homer was Coyle’s team-leading 14th and his first since Aug. 1.
Andy Burns ended Johnson’s no-hit bid with an opposite field solo home run, just inside the foul pole in the sixth inning and pulled the Cats to within three at 4-1. Johnson trotted back to the hill for the seventh and bookended his final frame with two strikeouts around a groundout.
Portland’s offense continued to pile on the runs with another pair in the top of the seventh. Michael Almanzar chipped in with an RBI single to right, which made it 5-1 and a wild pitch by Scott Gracey upped it to 6-1 as Carson Blair scored from third.
The Sea Dogs scoring was capped off with their fourth home run of the night, another solo homer, this time off the bat of Miller, his second in Double-A making it 7-1 Sea Dogs.
Aaron Kurcz pitched a perfect eighth with three strikeouts and Dayan Diaz pitched the ninth in scoreless fashion adding two strikeouts.
Johnson earned the win with his seven innings of work. He allowed the one run, on the one hit, walked two and struck out 10. Bibens-Dirkx (6-3) took home the loss, lasting just four-plus innings. The righty gave up four runs on eight hits; he walked two and struck out four.