Valdez Solid in Senators Win Over Portland, 5-2

Difo with three hits, two doubles in victory

Phillips Valdez threw five strong innings and the Senators held its early lead in a 5-2 win over the Portland Sea Dogs on Thursday night at Hadlock Field.

With the win, the Senators (39-32) move to a season-high seven games over .500 and win the season series over Portland, five games to two.

The Senators started quickly Thursday night with three consecutive singles, capped by Isaac Ballou’s eighth RBI of the series to score Rafael Bautista. Chris Bostick added a sacrifice fly later in the inning to put the Senators up 2-0.

Harrisburg added to its total in the third when Wilmer Difo doubled to start the inning. Ballou followed by swinging at a 3-0 pitch, hitting a high fly ball deep to right field that was dropped by Portland’s Aneury Tavarez. Difo scored, and Ballou reached third, but was stranded there. With runners on first and third in the fourth inning, Bautista drove in a run with a bunt base hit to score Zach Collier.

Harrisburg starter Phillips Valdez was solid in his third outing with the Senators, breezing through four scoreless innings. Portland’s Tavarez led off the fifth inning with a home run to center field, which was followed by a double. Valdez walked a runner later in the fifth with two outs, and after a wild pitch, runners were on second and third. Valdez, however, limited the damage by inducing a ground out to end the inning.

The Senators added a run in the seventh inning when Kevin Keyes hit a hot shot to the shortstop Mauricio Dubon with the bases loaded that glanced off Dubon’s glove, allowing Ballou to score from third in what turned out to be a fielder’s choice out at second base.

Difo finished 3-for-5 with two doubles and two runs scored. Bautista had two hits and a run scored as well. The Senators struck out a season-high 16 times Thursday and left 10 men on base.

Difo Wilmer_2016_04_16 - 3103 (Will Bentzel)

Wilmer Difo doubled twice Wednesday in the Senators’ win over Portland (Will Bentzel/MiLB.com)

Andrew Robinson worked three innings on Thursday, allowing a run on one hit to earn his fifth hold of the season. Abel De Los Santos picked up his second save in as many days by pitching a scoreless ninth inning.

The Senators now travel to Manchester, N.H. to take on the New Hampshire Fisher Cats in a three-game series this weekend. Harrisburg’s Greg Ross will try to win his fourth straight start as he takes on New Hampshire’s Luis Santos with first pitch set for 7:05 p.m. Friday night. The game can be heard on Fox Sports 1460 AM, on the internet at senatorsbaseball.com, or through the TuneIn and iHeart Radio apps with The Matt LeCroy Show beginning the radio broadcast at 6:50 p.m.

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