Justin Nicolino got some help from a rainstorm to pick up his first Double-A win on Wednesday.
Nicolino pitched his second career complete game, outdueling fellow top prospect Zach Lee as Double-A Jacksonville edged Chattanooga, 2-1, in a rain-shortened Southern League game Wednesday at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.
Nicolino (1-2), the Marlins' No. 4 prospect, held the Lookouts to a run on four hits while striking out six over six innings for his first Suns win in three starts. He faced 22 batters, throwing 54 of his 76 pitches for strikes to hand Lee his eighth defeat.
Lee, Dodgers' No. 3 prospect and top Minor League pitcher, allowed two runs on five hits without a walk while fanning six over five innings to lose for the second time in three starts. The right-hander nearly matched Nicolino pitch for pitch, throwing 53 of his 73 pitches for strikes while hitting one of the 21 batters he faced.
Jacksonville took the lead in the fourth when Dan Pertusati doubled home Derek Dietrich and scored on Taylor Krick's single to center. Stormy weather then halted the game after the bottom of the sixth. That gave Nicolino his first complete game since July 16, 2011, when he pitched five innings for Class A Short-Season Vancouver in a rain-shortened win over Boise.
Nicolino, promoted to Jacksonville on July 18, struggled in his first two starts, allowing 11 runs over eight innings against Tennessee and Montgomery. Wednesday marked his home debut with the Suns as well as his longest outing since July 13 with Class A Advanced Jupiter. With the Hammerheads, the lefty went 5-2 with a 2.23 ERA and 64 strikeouts in 96 2/3 innings.
Outside of Wednesday, his best start this year came on June 26 when he limited Fort Myers to a run on a pair of hits over seven innings for his fourth Florida State League win.
Lee (8-8) was the Dodgers' first-round pick in 2010. He's allowed two earned runs or fewer in six of his last nine starts, and after enduring a rough outing at Birmingham on July 21, he bounced back by holding Jackson to a run over six frames on July 26 for his eighth win. In 23 outings (21 starts), Lee has struck out 107 and walked 27 batters in 113 2/3 frames in his second season with Chattanooga.
The Lookouts gave Lee a 1-0 lead in the fourth on Jeremy Moore's sacrifice fly which knocked home J.T. Wise.