De La Cruz worked efficiently in his third outing of the season on Monday, striking out four while inducing 11 groundouts against just three flyball outs. But he wound up not getting a decision after Wilmington rallied to a 4-1 victory.
"My fastball was working good," De La Cruz said, adding he and the Kinston staff had been "working on his delivery" after his first two starts.
The lefty walked one -- former first-round Draft pick Eric Hosmer -- with two outs in the fourth inning, after Hosmer fouled off De La Cruz's first 3-2 offering.
Pulled after six frames due to pitch count considerations, he left with a 1-0 lead having faced just one over the minimum. Kinston lost its sixth straight.
It was the longest and strongest outing in over a year for De La Cruz. In his first two outings for Kinston this season, he had allowed six earned runs on 13 hits while striking out seven over 9 2/3 frames.
The 6-foot-5 21-year-old's 2.98 ERA and 136 strikeouts both ranked third in the Indians' Minor League system in 2008. The Indians placed De La Cruz on their 40-man roster this past offseason despite his injury and lack of experience above Class A Advanced.
It wasn't his first extended no-hit outing. He tossed five hitless frames for Class A Short-Season Mahoning Valley on July 20, 2007 -- and didn't get a decision in that game as well.
The Indians took a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning on a one-out single by Karexon Sanchez, but reliever Santos Frias (0-1), who had not allowed a run in his previous three outings, gave up a solo homer to Hosmer with one out in the seventh. It was Hosmer's first longball of the season and just the second for Wilmington as a team.
In a game that featured just five hits combined, Hosmer's homer lifted his batting average to a Carolina League-leading .447.
Wilmington starter Michael Montgomery -- another former first-round pick -- was nearly as strong as De La Cruz. The lefty allowed an unearned run on two hits while striking out eight over six frames. Buddy Baumann (1-0) earned the victory with three one-hit innings of relief. He struck out six.