After relying on his defense through the first eight innings, Christian Bergman finished things himself on Friday night.
The Rockies prospect pitched a three-hitter and struck out six en route to his third career shutout and first in nearly two years as Double-A Tulsa beat Northwest Arkansas, 5-0, on Friday night at Arvest Ballpark.
Bergman (6-7) struck out the side in the ninth to nail down his first complete-game shutout since Aug. 19, 2011. He threw 104 pitches, including 68 for strikes.
"I haven't felt so energized as long as I can remember, it was a great feeling," Bergman said.
The 25-year-old right-hander has pitched a Texas League-leading 138 1/3 innings, averaging almost 6 1/3 per start, so he's used to going deep into ballgames. The 25-year-old recorded a pair of nine-inning shutouts in 2011 for short-season Tri-City.
"My goal every time I go out there is to stay in the game as long as possible and give my team a chance to win," Bergman said. "If I'm throwing a lot of innings, that means the other parts of pitching are taking care of themselves -- getting ground balls, throwing strikes, stuff like that. That's definitely something I take pride in."
The Altadena, Calif., native was coming off two starts in which he surrendered 11 runs on 17 hits.
"It was kind of just baseball, the last couple starts balls were just falling in," Bergman said. "Tonight I had unbelievable defense behind me. They turned four double plays and up until the last inning I had only struck out three. The defense was making every play behind me, even some plays that were in the hole. The biggest difference was the help I had behind me and balls going our way tonight."
Bergman had a 5.52 ERA in five July starts, despite striking out 26 batters and walking only two over 31 innings.
"Pitchers are always taught to throw strikes and everything, but sometimes I throw strikes when I don't need to," he explained. "That's something that I'm more aware of now. I'm aware of the count and situations where I can let go of one and let it go out of the zone. That doesn't mean throw it to the backstop, but I don't necessarily have to throw strikes to get a guy out."
Selected in the 24th round of the 2010 Draft, Bergman lowered his ERA to 3.32, which ranks seventh in the league. He's also fourth with a 1.11 WHIP. And while he's made a good case for a promotion, he's maintaining his focus on the day-to-day picture.
"That's not something I can really control," Bergman said. "I do my best not to think about anything like that. I just go start to start and try to learn from each outing. After that, everything takes care of it itself."
On Friday, Bergman got support from Angelys Nina, who fell a homer short of the cycle and scored twice. Rockies No. 10 prospect Kyle Parker and No. 17 prospect Christian Adames both went deep for Tulsa.