PORTLAND, Maine — The Portland Sea Dogs dropped their third straight game, losing 3-1 to the Reading Fightin Phils Thursday night at Hadlock Field.
The loss coupled with the New Britain Rock Cats’ 5-3 win over the Binghamton Mets decreases Portland’s magic number for a division title to two games, keeping the Sea Dogs (85-53) two games up over the Mets.
The game headed to the seventh tied up at 1-1, but the Phils (62-76) jumped in front with two runs against a shaky Portland bullpen in the top half of the frame. Aaron Altherr sparked the rally with a leadoff walk and moved to third on KC Serna’s double with one out.
Pete Ruiz was in the jam and walked Logan Moore, filling the bases with one down. The righty battled back to strike out Edgar Duran, but walked Albert Cartwright on four pitches to give Reading the 2-1 lead as Altherr scored from third. Dayan Diaz took over for the Sea Dogs and walked the first man he faced, which upped the lead to 3-1.
Portland tallied three base runners over the final two innings, but could not score against Kyle Simon who locked down the three-inning save.
Ruiz (3-2) took the loss in relief, allowing three runs on two hits, three walks and one strikeout. Diaz went 2 ⅓ scoreless innings and allowed three base runners on a hit and two walks. He also struck out two.
Portland left-hander Brian Johnson gave up a one-out single to the second man he faced, but went on to retire the next 13 batters he faced in order.
His final tune-up start came to an end after five scoreless innings. He allowed two hits did not walk a batter and struck out one.
Hoby Milner (10-6) held the Sea Dogs to one run over six innings, despite allowing seven hits and six walks. The lone run for Portland against the lefty came on a Keury De La Cruz single, which plated Mike Miller in the third inning.