PORTLAND — Nice day for just about everyone at Hadlock Field on Sunday.

Especially the Boston Red Sox.

Rehabbing reliever Andrew Bailey, the cornerstone figure in an off-season trade with Oakland, pitched an inning of relief in the Portland Sea Dogs 11-2 victory over the Erie SeaWolves.

Bailey allowed one run on three singles and struck out two. He threw 23 pitches, 16 for strikes. His fastball topped out at 94 mph.

“Everything went good today,” said Bailey, who has been out all season after having surgery on his right thumb. “I felt strong, I felt healthy. So I’ll head back and catch up with the guys in Boston (on Monday). It’s all about going forward.”

And that’s something the Sea Dogs have been doing since the all-star break. Sunday’s win was their fourth in a row, completing a 5-1 homestand and the team’s first three-game sweep of Erie since June 8-10, 2010. Portland had 17 hits, 10 coming from the 2-3-4 batters in the lineup: Marquez Smith, Jeremy Hazelbaker and Bryce Brentz. The trio also scored eight runs and drove in six — a career-high five by Brentz.

“On a day when everything seemed to fall in for us, it seems easy,” said Brentz, who hit a towering three-run home run over the left-field wall in the fourth. “But it really isn’t.”

Knuckleballer Steven Wright, acquired in a deadline-day trade from Cleveland, made an impressive debut. He allowed just one run and five hits in six innings, settling down after a shaky first.

Given a 7-0 lead after two innings, he baffled the SeaWolves with his hard knuckleball.

“That makes it a lot easier to relax,” said Wright. “Try new things, change speeds. You’ve got that nice little run, takes a burden off your back and you can just concentrate on executing pitches.”

Bailey relieved Wright in the seventh, the first time in his rehab he has come out of the bullpen. It was his third rehab appearance.

“It was good to see,” Sea Dogs manager Kevin Boles said. “Obvious we want him to be healthy. He got his one inning in with us and now it’s next to Pawtucket.

“He’s a true professional, the way he went about his business. It’s good to see him back from his injury. He looked good. He’s got good stuff, obviously. He comes right at you. There’s a reason he’s a closer in the big leagues.”

Bailey, who drove to Portland Sunday morning and drove back to Boston Sunday night, admitted to being frustrated by his injury.

“You can only do what you can do,” he said. “Right now I’m focused on getting back with the big club and helping them win some ballgames and make a strong playoff push. Being out hurt for a while is never fun … it takes a lot of mental focus to stay positive, knowing this day will come.

“Sometimes it takes a little longer than others. I’m here, I’m looking forward to pitching.”

Bailey said he doesn’t care what role he plays with the Red Sox. Alfredo Aceves has stepped in as the closer in his absence.

“I don’t really care,” he said. “Those guys have had a good thing going all year long. I don’t think I’m owed anything. Just because I was the closer in Oakland doesn’t mean I’m the closer here. It’s not a given.

“I’ve got a job to perform in whatever role I’m given. As long as we win I’m happy.”

Notes: Hazelbaker, the DH, was hit in the right leg by a pitch in the fifth inning and replaced by a pinch-hitter in the seventh. Boles said it was simply a precautionary move … Brentz, in right field, made a leaping catch before crashing into the wall to rob James McCann of extra-bases leading off the third. And Wright helped himself when he ran to his right, grabbed a slow roller by Avisail Garcia bare-handed, then whirled and them him out at first for the second out of the fourth.

 

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