After getting roughed up in his first career Double-A start, Eric Berger is settling in quite nicely with the Akron Aeros.
The 23-year-old left-hander struck out seven and allowed an infield single over six strong innings Wednesday as the Aeros one-hit the Bowie Baysox, 3-0, in front of 3,534 fans at Canal Park.
Berger (1-1), who went 7-8 with a 2.45 ERA and 100 strikeouts in 21 starts at Class A Advanced Kinston earlier this season, was pounded for eight runs -- five earned -- on 13 hits over 5 2/3 innings in his Akron debut on Aug. 7, absorbing the loss in a 9-6 setback to New Britain.
"I was just getting my feet wet," said Berger. "I gave up a lot of hits and they earned their way on base. I know that at every level the pitching has to be better. You just have to keep your adrenaline under control."
Cleveland's eighth-round pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft rebounded by allowing two runs on two hits over six innings in the Aeros' 3-2, 10-inning loss at Connecticut on Thursday.
Berger was even better Wednesday.
The 6-foot-2, 205-pound North Carolina native worked around a pair of walks over the first 5 2/3 frames before surrendering a grounder up the middle to Daniel Figueroa that was ruled a hit when shortstop Carlos Rivero was unable to make a play on the ball.
While the partisan crowd booed the scoring decision, Berger took the ruling in stride and got Paco Figueroa to pop out to first with his final offering of the evening.
"It would have been a tough play anyway because he had to go to the hole," Berger said of what proved to be Bowie's lone hit of the contest.
"But it kind of took a little bad hop too. It's tough to pitch a game and not give up any hits. It didn't bother me at all. It still felt very comfortable to pitch in that situation."
Erik Stiller and Josh Judy, who registered his seventh save, combined to fan four over the final two frames.
"I was able to get ahead of a lot of guys," said Berger, who cited a slight shift in his positioning on the pitching rubber for his recent success.
"I noticed that they were taking a lot of pitches early in counts. My changeup and curveball worked really well. But I would have rather given up two more hits than giving up those two walks."
Berger went 2-0 with a 2.11 ERA in 10 appearances, including nine starts, between short-season Mahoning Valley and Class A Lake County during his first pro campaign in 2008. The University of Arizona product appears to have worked his way back from the reconstructive elbow surgery that forced him to miss the entire 2007 season.
"The Tommy John set me back in the Draft a little," Berger said. "But once I started [pitching again], I just wanted to get to the big leagues, which is the ultimate goal and a childhood dream."
With Wednesday's victory, Akron matched a season high by moving 29 games above .500 and reduced its magic number for clinching the Eastern League Southern Division title to 11.
John Torenli is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.