Jose Urena has been making his way through the Southern League one team at a time. He's blanked three different opponents and made several other teams look toothless. On Saturday night, he posted a string of zeros against yet another club.
Urena allowed three singles and recorded a season-high eight strikeouts over seven innings in Double-A Jacksonville's 1-0 blanking of the Biscuits at Montgomery Riverwalk Stadium.
The 22-year-old right-hander threw 63 of 97 pitches for strikes and induced nine ground-ball outs in lowering his ERA to 3.88. He's had a scoreless outing of at least six innings in each of the first four months of the season.
Urena (9-7) allowed a single in the third to Jeff Malm, who was erased on an inning-ending strike-him-out, throw-him-out double play.
Malm singled again in the sixth, advanced on Willie Argo's walk and took third on Kes Carter's base hit up the middle. But the Marlins' No. 7 prospect induced an inning-ending double play ball off the bat of Jake Hager to escape unharmed.
"[Shortstop Austin] Nola has been solid for us all year," Suns manager Andy Barkett said. "That was an inning where they had Urena on the ropes a little bit and Nola got us out of it."
The win was Urena's third straight. The native of the Dominican Republic held Pensacola to one run over 5 2/3 innings on Sunday after striking out six batters over six frames against Tennessee on July 14. And despite a record that is an accurate barometer of his sometimes inconsistent performances, he's dazzled at times.
Urena pitched six shutout innings against Charlotte on April 18 and limited Pensacola to two hits over six scoreless frames on May 15. On June 6, he scattered three hits over eight innings, which tied a season best.
Greg Nappo fanned three in the eighth in relief of Urena and Nick Wittgren worked a scoreless ninth. Catcher Austin Barnes, Miami's 15th-ranked prospect, plated the game's lone run with his fifth Double-A homer in the first inning. He finished 2-for-3 with a double and a walk.
"Urena was outstanding for seven and Nappo did a great job in the eighth, Wittgren had an easy ninth and Barnes hit a solo homer early and I wondered if that run would stand up there," Barkett said. "Usually against this club one run usually doesn't beat them, but tonight we were fortunate it did."
Montgomery starter Mike Colla (6-10) allowed a run on four hits and two walks while striking out four over 6 1/3 innings.