Since the Triple-A Colorado Sky Sox played their first game in 1988, they have hosted only three games that have been 0-0 going into the bottom of the ninth inning.
Right-handed starter Christian Bergman has been involved in two of them. They have both come in his last two starts.
Bergman scattered two hits and one walk while striking out seven over eight innings Thursday, but it took the Sky Sox 13 innings to defeat Nashville, 1-0, at Security Service Field. Kyle Parker's ground-rule double scored Jason Pridie to give the Rockies' Triple-A affiliate a walk-off win.
"I had a good run on my fastball, I thought," Bergman said. "Their lineup had a lot of lefties, so I had to establish my fastball on their half of the plate if I was going to make my off-speed stuff more effective. And I got some quick outs and a couple of double plays from a good defense behind me. So it was a solid day all around."
It was the second straight outing in which the right-hander didn't give up a run in eight innings at home and also didn't factor into the decision. He reached eight scoreless frames against Memphis on May 3. Pridie's RBI walk-off single in the the ninth gave the Sky Sox a 1-0 win that day.
That victory was their first 1-0 win at home since 1996. Now they have two in five days.
"I just kind laughed the first time I heard that," Bergman said. "It's funny to think this team went all those years without a 1-0 game, and now we get two in a week."
The lack of scoreless games shouldn't come as much as a surprise, given Colorado Springs's reputation as a hitters' park. MiLB.com's Ashley Marshall showed that Security Service Field ranked third among PCL parks in runs per game from 2008 to 2013. Only Isotopes Park and Aces Ballpark came in higher.
Home cooking has done Bergman some good, though.
Following Thursday's gem, the 6-foot-1 26-year-old is 3-1 with a 4.06 ERA, 28 strikeouts and seven walks in seven starts (44 1/3 innings) this season. His numbers are even better at home, where he sports 2.53 ERA in three starts compared to a 5.48 mark in four road outings.
With these two latest scoreless outings at home under his belt, Bergman's overall ERA has fallen from 6.35 on April 28 to its current level.
The right-hander admitted he looks at the idea of pitching in a hitters' park as a motivational tool.
"You hear a lot of things about pitching at altitude," Bergman said. "You just have to take it as a challenge. You don't really want to be resigned to the fact that you're going to give up runs. You don't want to buy into that. So for me and my mental state, I'm not accepting anything less than my best and when I go out there, especially here."
Taken in the 24th round of the 2010 Draft, the former UC Irvine hurler is in his fourth full season in the Rockies system, having moved up one level each season. He was a midseason and a postseason All-Star in the Texas (8-7, 3.37 ERA) and California Leagues (16-5, 3.65 ERA) with Double-A Tulsa and Class A Advanced Modesto respectively in his past two campaigns.
Now with a few Triple-A starts -- and the ebbs and flows that come with them -- completed, Bergman seems settled into the thin air of Colorado Springs.
"I've been more aware of what I'm trying to do up there," he said. "[Catcher] Michael McKenry, in talking to him before he went to the Majors, he told me the hitter will tell you what you need to throw next. How they react to your pitch, what kind of swing they put on it, that pretty much tells you what you should pitch right after. That's the biggest adjustment I've made."
Rob Scahill and Wilton Lopez each tossed two scoreless innings of relief, and Dan Houston (2-2) got the win after striking out two in the 13th.
Bergman went tit for tat with Sounds southpaw starter Brad Mills, who allowed four hits while fanning three over his seven innings. Right-hander Michael Blazek held the game scoreless for three frames, escaping a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the 10th, and Jeremy Jeffress (0-1) did the same for 2 2/3 innings until he served up the game-winner in the 13th.