MANCHESTER, N.H. — The Portland Sea Dogs got a fine start from Brian Johnson but could not back it up, losing 1-0 to the New Hampshire Fisher Cats on Sunday afternoon at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium.

Johnson (3-1) pitched a four-hitter over seven innings. He allowed the only run in the sixth on a double and Kenny Wilson’s RBI single. Johnson showed his usual control (90 pitches/64 strikes), walking one.

“Got his fastball for strike one,” Sea Dogs catcher Michael Brenly said. “He was forcing them to put the ball in play and our defense was great behind him.”

The Sea Dogs outhit New Hampshire 6-5 but left eight runners on base, including five in scoring position.

Sean Coyle and Peter Hissey each had two hits for Portland. Mookie Betts went 1 for 3 with a walk.

This was Johnson’s fifth start since being called up from Class A Salem. He has a 1.84 ERA. His control remains his strength, even against better hitters.


“Veteran guys have more of an approach (in Double-A) and they don’t chase,” Johnson said. “It’s still the game of baseball. I try not to overthink it and pitch to the game plan.”

The game plan is simple: throw strikes inside and outside with his fastball.

“That’s been the key thing for me,” he said, “and mix in some off-speed.”

Former major leaguer Radhames Liz, 30, started for New Hampshire and went three innings. Richard Bleier (3-4) relieved for five scoreless frames and Randy Boone earned the save.

Portland (33-16) and the Fisher Cats (17-32) play again at 1 p.m. Monday. The Sea Dogs return to Hadlock Field on Tuesday for a 6 p.m. game against New Britain.

NOTES: Betts stole his 22nd base in 25 attempts. … The announced paid attendance was 5,779. … Manager Billy McMillon was not with the team in Manchester because of a personal matter. Red Sox catching coordinator Chad Epperson served as manager. … Knuckleball pitcher Steven Wright will be added to the Sea Dogs roster and will start Monday. Wright, 29, has been on the disabled list since spring training because of a sports hernia. He made 24 appearances for Pawtucket last year (3.46 ERA) and four appearances with Boston (5.40). … Monday’s originally scheduled starter, Keith Couch, will relieve Wright. Then both Wright and Couch can pitch in Saturday’s doubleheader in Trenton. … Outfielder Shannon Wilkerson, 25, was promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket. Wilkerson has played parts of three seasons in Portland and was batting .296 this season. … Sea Dogs reliever Pete Ruiz, who has been on the disabled list since minor elbow surgery in spring training, finally left Fort Myers, Florida, and was assigned to Greenville.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or at:

Twitter: ClearTheBases

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