MANCHESTER — New Hampshire pitcher Ryan Tepera made like Santa Claus and delivered a gem for the Fisher Cats on "Christmas in July" night at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium Wednesday.
Tepera threw eight shutout innings to lead New Hampshire to a 4-0 win over the Portland Sea Dogs in front of 6,250 fans. The win was the eighth in a row for the Fisher Cats, tying a franchise record set in 2004 and equaled in 2010.
New Hampshire swept Portland and improved to 49-46, strengthening its hold on second place in the Eastern league's East Division. The top two teams from the division will make the playoffs.
Tepera scattered four hits and struck out seven with no walks to move his record to 8-6. He worked out of trouble in the first frame when leadoff hitter Peter Hissey doubled and moved to third on a bunt from Derrik Gibson. But that was as close as Portland would come.
Reliever Scott Gracey came in to work the ninth inning for New Hampshire. He allowed a one-out single to Garin Cecchini and a passed ball moved Cecchini over, but Gracey struck out Tony Thomas and got Michael Almanzar to ground out to ice the game.
On Wednesday, the Fisher Cats took a 3-0 lead with three runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. Kevin Nolan led off with a single, but was erased on a fielder's choice when Andy Burns grounded to second base. Burns stole second base and came in to score the first run of the game on a Ryan Schimpf double down the right first base line.
Brian Van Kirk followed with a single up the middle to score Schimpf to make it 2-0. Van Kirk was then able to score on a Kevin Ahrens double down the left field line when the ball got caught up in the bullpen area.
The Fisher Cats added a run in the seventh. Center fielder Adam Loewen led off with a walk off relief pitcher Miguel Celestino and moved to second on a Melky Cabrera groundout to second base. Catcher A.J. Jimenez followed with a double off the center field wall to plate Loewen for the 4-0 New Hampshire lead.
Continuing his rehab stint from Toronto, Cabrera went 2-for-4 with a stolen base.
The Fisher Cats are on the road for a four-game series at Trenton starting tonight.