ALTOONA, Pa. — Left-handed pitcher Brian Johnson (4-1) tossed six strong innings and Portland used a big first inning to beat the Altoona Curve 5-1 on Tuesday night in the series opener at Peoples Natural Gas Field.
The Sea Dogs (42-22) take the opener of a nine-game road trip and improved to 4-3 during an 18-game stretch against the Western Division.
Johnson notched his fifth quality start of the season, yielding just four hits on one run, one walk and struck out six. The lefty worked around two lead-off doubles, and held the Curve 0-for-8 with runners-in-scoring position. The win for Johnson was his seventh between Portland and High-A Salem.
The Sea Dogs scored three times off losing pitcher Joely Rodriguez (3-5) in the first inning. Derrik Gibson (3-for-3, 2 runs scored) led of the game with an infield single, Deven Marrero followed with a single to center. Blake Swihart knocked home the first run with a double, Sean Coyle added a run-scoring ground out and Stefan Welch delivered a run-scoring single to right.
Portland made it 4-0 in the third. Gibson led off with single, stole second base and scored on a single by Marrero.
David Chester shined in his Double-A debut, going 3-for-4 (double) with a run-scoring single in the fifth inning to put Portland in front 5-0. Chester was activated from High-A Salem’s disabled list before the game and assigned to Portland. The Oklahoma native was on Salem’s DL from April 28-June 9.
Rodriguez gave up all five runs on 10 hits, taking his fifth loss in his 12th start of the season for the Curve (24-39).
Altoona got on the board in Johnson’s final inning. Drew Maggi and Alen Hanson started the sixth with singles. Keon Broxton hit into a 6-4-3 double play for Altoona’s lone run of the night.
Portland’s bullpen closed out the win with three scoreless innings. Mike McCarthy worked two innings on one hit and a strikeout. Aaron Kurcz tossed the ninth and has not allowed an earned run in 10 appearances.