After an 80-minute delay and with more rain in the forecast, Nathan Dorris just wanted to get through five strong innings.
The weather held up, but the quickened tempo helped the Cubs prospect string together six scoreless frames in Class A Advanced Daytona's 4-2 win at Lakeland.
"I picked up the pace, and it worked out for me. I kept with that routine and I did everything I could," Dorris said. "Strikeouts are cool for highlights and whatever, but the more I get my defense in plays, the better it is for everyone."
Dorris (4-4) induced nine groundouts and four flyouts while fanning four. He issued four walks, but the only member of the Flying Tigers to get a hit against him was Austin Green.
Before the Lakeland catcher singled in the second, Conner Harrell started the inning by reaching on an error by D-Cubs shortstop Marco Hernandez. But two ground balls later, Dorris and his defense eliminated the threat.
"It gives me confidence, but it also gives confidence to the defense. And the next few innings, we were able to put runs on the board," the 23-year-old left-hander said of getting out of the jam. "I have to give credit to my defense; I don't have good enough to stuff to do it on my own, so I need them."
With the game close for most of his start, Dorris pulled from his experience as a reliever to get the tough outs and keep Lakeland off the scoreboard.
The Illinois native worked out of the bullpen for his first two seasons and made 13 relief appearances for Class A Kane County this year before being promoted in mid-May and moving into Daytona's rotation.
"Coming out of the bullpen, you're always -- well, you're usually coming in in close games, so you always have to buckle down. And that's something I try to do as a starter as well," he said. "It's a different mind-set: you have to set up hitters a little more as a starter, but in the grand scheme of things, you go out there and compete. And that's what I try to do, no matter what inning.
"I'm doing something I've loved since I was a little guy, so whatever role they put me in, I'm blessed to be a part of the Chicago Cubs organization."
The 6-foot-3 southpaw notched his second straight scoreless outing and has not allowed a run in 15 innings dating back to his start against Brevard County on June 20.
One of the teammates the 2012 17th-round pick recognizes for his success is center fielder Albert Almora. The Cubs' fourth-ranked prospect went 3-for-5 with a double for his fourth three-hit effort in his last nine games.
"Albert's the man. We feed off him, whether he is making great plays in the outfield or doing well at the plate. He is a leader anyway you look at him," Dorris said. "I'm so fortunate to have him."
Michael Jensen relieved Dorris and gave up a run on two hits over 1 1/3 innings. Zack Godley recorded his second save, despite allowing a run on three hits over the final 1 2/3 frames.
Bjian Rademacher blasted a solo homer, while Rock Shoulders added an RBI single for Daytona.