PORTLAND, Maine — Kevin Nolan had three hits and Marcus Walden pitched 7 2/3 strong innings, but the New Hampshire Fisher Cats missed too many offensive opportunities in a 4-2 loss to the Portland Sea Dogs on Wednesday afternoon.
With the defeat, the Fisher Cats dropped two of three in the series with Portland. They also dropped another half-game behind Trenton, trailing the Thunder by three games pending the outcome of Trenton's Wednesday night meeting with New Britain, for the final Eastern League playoff spot.
A pitcher's duel was marked by missed opportunities for both teams to begin the game. The Fisher Cats left runners in scoring position in each of the first three innings, a feat matched by Portland in its first two trips to the plate.
In the fourth, Portland took advantage of Derrik Gibson's speed to scratch out the game's first run. With one out and men at the corners, Gibson bounced a ball to third, but he beat out the double play relay throw to first to drive home Christian Vazquez for a 1-0 lead.
Walden put up zeroes over the next three innings for the Fisher Cats, carrying the 1-0 game into the eighth. That's when Kevin Nolan tied it up with a two-out double to the gap in left-center to score Andy Burns for a 1-1 tie.
Walden returned to the mound in the eighth, but hit leadoff batter Shannon Wilkerson. A sacrifice bunt and a ground out moved Wilkerson to third, albeit with two outs. A walk to J.C. Linares spelled the end of the day for Walden as manager Gary Allenson called on lefty Evan Crawford out of the bullpen. The pitching change backfired as Crawford gave up a two-run triple to Michael Almanzar and a run-scoring hit to Vazquez to put Portland up 4-1.
The Fisher Cats didn't go quietly in the ninth, however. John Tolisano doubled to lead off the inning, taking third on a one-out single by Ryan Schimpf. Jack Murphy brought Tolisano home to cut the deficit to 4-2. Another hit loaded the bases before a strikeout and a pop up ended the game and the series in the Sea Dogs favor.
Walden (6-13) took another tough-luck loss for the Fisher Cats by allowing three runs over 7 2/3 innings. Nolan finished the day 3-3 with a walk.The Fisher Cats ontinue their road trip for the start of a five-game, four-day series against the Reading Fightin Phils tonight at 7:05. Righty Marcus Stroman (7-4, 3.22) gets the ball in game one against Reading's Mario Hollands (3-1, 3.91).