RICHMOND, Va. — The Portland Sea Dogs’ bullpen struggled again and gave up four runs in the seventh en route to the 6-0 loss to the Richmond Flying Squirrels Sunday afternoon in the series finale.
The loss, along with the New Britain win, keeps the Sea Dogs magic number at six.
Both teams were held scoreless until Richmond jumped on the board with four runs in the seventh against Dayan Diaz. Angel Villalona began the inning with a double to right and moved to third on an infield single to second by Ricky Oropesa, setting the table for Tyler LaTorre.
With the runners at the corners and infield drawn in, the catcher hit a hard chopper to short, which Heiker Meneses fielded and fired home, but the ball popped loose, allowed Villalona to score and Richmond held the 1-0 lead.
The inning continued to escape Diaz as he delivered a one-out walk to load the bases and gave up bases-clearing double to Elliot Blair, which upped the Flying Squirrels lead to 4-0. Diaz walked the next hitter he faced in Blake Miller, and ended his outing.
Aaron Kurcz then walked the first man he faced in Mario Lisson, which again loaded the bases. The righty buckled down and struck out Villalona.
Kurcz returned for the eighth and was tagged for two runs, making it 6-0 Flying Squirrels. Richmond scored 17 of its 18 runs in the series against the Portland bullpen.
Steven Okert (1-0) pitched a perfect eighth and earned the win with two scoreless before Hunter Strickland closed out the game on the mound in the ninth.
Diaz (1-1) pitched just one-third of an inning. In his outing he allowed four runs on three hits and two walks. Kurcz gave up two runs on four hits, a walk and a strikeout across five outs.
Right-hander Mike Augliera started for Portland and retired the side in order on nine pitches in the first and worked around a walk in the second. He delivered another perfect frame in the third and did not allow his first hit until two outs in the fourth, but he pitched around it.
Again Augliera worked around a hit in the fifth inning and returned for the sixth, where he faced the most adversity in his outing. Skyler Stromsmoe singled to begin the inning and Miller doubled him to third, but the Portland starter got a line-out and ground-out to end the threat and his outing. He went six scoreless and gave up four hits, one walk, and struck out five.
On Saturday night, the Sea Dogs scored five times in the top of the 11th inning, and snapped a 9-game losing streak to the Flying Squirrels, winning 12-7 in 11 innings on Saturday night at the Diamond.
Portland scored five unearned runs off losing pitcher Edwin Quirarte (9-6) in the 11th. With the bases loaded, Mike Miller’s infield hit scored Carson Blair for the game-winning run. Michael Almanzar followed with a grand slam down the left-field line, his second homer of the series. Richmond (67-53) committed two errors in the inning and four on the night.
The Sea Dogs couldn’t hold onto one-run leads in the ninth and 10th innings. Richmond tied the game at six on Skyler Stromsmoe’s sacrifice fly in the ninth. Noe Ramirez blew his second save of the trip, but kept the game tied, working two innings on three hits and one run.
Portland responded with a run in the 10th inning on a sacrifice fly by David Chester, but in the bottom of the 10th inning, pinch-hitter Devin Harris tied the game with a solo homer off Robby Scott. Scott would not allow another run, earning his 7th win of the season.
The Sea Dogs defense stepped up in the ninth inning after the game was tied. Stefan Welch made a diving stop of an infield single, preventing the game from ending, and Keury De La Cruz made a diving catch with a runner at third base.
Both teams scored unearned runs in the first inning. Keith Couch returned to the mound for the Sea Dogs, making his first start since June 16th at Erie. Couch worked 4.2 innings on three hits and one unearned run.
Portland grabbed a 3-1 lead in the fourth inning, scoring twice off starter Clayton Blackburn. Chester nailed a run-scoring single and De La Cruz added a sacrifice fly. In the bottom of the sixth inning, Richmond’s Mario Lisson homered for the second straight day, a solo-shot off reliever Mike McCarthy.
The game looked like a Sea Dogs win, with Portland putting three on the scoreboard in the eighth. Blair had a sacrifice fly and Welch nailed an RBI single to left. With two outs, Shannon Wilkerson (3-for-6) clubbed a run-scoring double to left. Richmond answered with a three-run eighth, cutting the deficit to 6-5.
Portland can clinch a winning trip with a victory on Sunday, and go back to 30 games over .500 for the fifth time this season.