Bradford pitched 7 1/3 hitless innings before allowing a double to Eric Campbell on Wednesday night as the Palm Beach Cardinals held on for a 5-2 triumph over the St. Lucie Mets.
"It's funny because he's a buddy of mine, and I heard someone say, 'Jared,' and I turned around and look at him and he said, 'I'm so sorry,'" Bradford said. "I was really just worried about getting the next guy. To me, it wasn't the end of the world, it was just, 'Let's get through this and win the ballgame.'"
Bradford, St. Louis' 18th-round pick in the 2008 Draft, was teammates with Campbell in 2006 in the Valley Baseball League in Virginia.
Bradford (1-1) left to a standing ovation at Roger Dean Stadium after allowing two runs on three hits with a pair of strikeouts over 7 1/3 frames. Mark Diapoules entered with the tying run at the plate but promptly got Emmanuel Garcia to bounce into an inning-ending double play.
Casey Mulligan struck out two and pitched around two hits in the ninth for his second save.
Bradford came in with an 18.56 ERA, having surrendered five runs on five hits while retiring one batter in his last start on April 15. He credited the turnaround to a talk with Palm Beach pitching coach Bryan Eversgerd.
"We sat in the locker room and he said this is like someone stealing food off my table, from the sense of me making the big leagues," Bradford said. "I didn't really think that the whole time, but I can remember thinking that a few times, and it made me bear down."
Bradford also praised his defense, although his teammates thought something else may have been involved.
"Some guys said the baseball gods were in my favor," Bradford said.
Domnit Bolivar scored twice and delievered an RBI single for the Cardinals, who broke open a scoreless game by scoring twice in the fifth and three times in the sixth. Catcher Luis De La Cruz singled, walked and scored twice in his season debut.
Campbell finished with two of the Mets' five hits, adding a ninth-inning single. Matt Bouchard had an RBI single for St. Lucie.
Robert Carson (0-2) took the loss after allowing two runs on five hits and with four strikeouts in five innings.