There were times last season when Red Sox's No. 2 prospect
Bryce Brentz seemed to be toying with opposing pitchers.
Now at a new level, the outfielder is beginning to stamp his authority on the Eastern League.
MLB.com's No. 59 prospect went 5-for-5 with a double and an RBI, but the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs fell to the Trenton Thunder, 7-4, on Sunday afternoon.
"I wish we had won, that would have been really nice for the bus trip. But overall, I'm happy with it," Brentz said.
"I don't think I've ever had a five-hit game. I know I haven't had one in pro ball, maybe in college. But I think 4-for-4 is the best I've ever had in one game."
The outing raised Brentz's average 31 points to .279, the highest it has been since the third game of the season. It also hinted his early-season slide is behind him.
He was batting .195 and in a 5-for-35 slump as recently as April 24, but he has since seen his output increase dramatically. Over his past 10 games, Brentz -- who hit safely in 26 consecutive South Atlantic League games in 2011 -- is batting .432 with 16 hits, two homers and five RBIs.
"I've been working my my hitting coach, Dave Joppie, on sticking with a game plan at the plate and not being too overly aggressive," Brentz said. "After last year and coming into this year, I thought they would challenge me more, it just came in a different way that I expected. I thought they would come at me with fastballs and see what I could handle, but instead they threw off-speed early and often.
"I chased and swung at everything. I learned to stay back and let the ball come to me. If they want to keep giving me the outer third of the plate, I have to keep hitting it to the right-center field gap."
Selected by Boston in the first round of the 2010 Draft, Brentz singled back up the middle in the first inning of Sunday's loss, but he was picked off and caught stealing second base. Boston's No. 2 prospect then singled again in the fourth and doubled to right field with two outs in the sixth.
The outfielder followed Reynaldo Rodriguez's leadoff walk in the eighth with a base hit to center field, and he collected his career-high fifth hit with a two-out RBI single an inning later.
"There was a base open and we were down, 7-3," Brentz said of his fifth hit. "They had their closer [Preston Claiborne] in and he threw me a first-pitch fastball which I laid off. I thought now would be a good time for another changeup, but he left me a fastball over the other third.
"I knew a two-run homer wouldn't do anything, so I just stuck with the same approach that worked for me with the other four hits. I'm not saying 5-for-5 will happen every time, but I have a better chance of outings like this if I don't get too big or too anxious at the plate."
The Middle Tennessee State University product had recorded four hits in a game on three different occasions, most recently in a 4-for-7 performance in Salem's 9-7 loss to Kingston in 13 innings on Aug. 13, 2011.
On Sunday, Portland shortstop Derrik Gibson went 2-for-3 with two RBIs, a run and a walk. Starting pitcher Chris Balcolm-Miller (2-3) allowed three runs on seven hits and five walks over four innings to drop his first decision since April 20.
Trenton left-hander Francisco Rondon (2-0) scattered three hits over two scoreless innings of relief. Starter Chris Heyer surrendered a run on three hits and a walk over three frames, but did not factor in the decision.
Right fielder Abraham Almonte was 3-for-4 with a two-run homer, and left fielder Cody Johnson and third baseman Kevin Mahoney both went deep in the triumph.