A.J. Cole doesn't go looking for a win. One found him anyway on Thursday.
The Nationals' No. 3 prospect allowed a run on three hits and fanned six over seven innings to earn the victory in his Double-A debut as Harrisburg bested Portland, 2-1.
Cole walked one and threw 66 of his 98 pitches for strikes. The Florida native took a shutout into the seventh inning before yielding a two-out solo homer to Travis Shaw.
"My fastball and my changeup were working real well for me," Cole said. "My curveball wasn't really there tonight, but I still threw it to show them that I had it. I was locating the fastball well and the changeup I could throw at any time. That was big for me."
After going 6-3 with a 4.25 ERA in 18 starts for Class A Advanced Potomac, the 21-year-old right-hander moved up to the Eastern League.
"I was [excited], it's always a good thing and a nice thing to be called up," he said. "To go out there and perform, it's a big thing for me and for your team. It was nice to get that [first win] too. I don't go out there saying, 'Hey I want to win.' I go out there and pitch the way I can. Things happen the way they turn out to happen."
MLB.com's No. 75 prospect outpitched Matt Barnes, baseball's overall No. 33 prospect. Barnes (5-7) gave up a run on three hits and fanned eight over five innings to suffer the loss for the Sea Dogs.
"I always like pitching in more of a pitchers' duel than in a hitters-type [game]," Cole said. "Going against another pitcher that's high up there ... throwing well and ... showing what I can do and helping my team out is always a good thing."
Cole has had an interesting month of July. In addition to making the jump to Double-A, the 2010 fourth-round pick earned the save in the Futures Game at Citi Field on July 14.
"I've been all over the place," he said. "A lot of experience and a lot of fun. I just want to keep that going. I love the game and I love playing. Better competition is a lot more fun and I'm trying to continue to grow as a pitcher and a player and keep on going."
Tyler Herron gave up two hits over the final two innings to earn his first save for Harrisburg.
Destin Hood tripled home a run and Jason Martinson, Washington's No. 17 prospect, scored a run for the Senators.