Ian Dickson's Saturday night could not have gone much better.
The Nationals prospect held Carolina scoreless over a career-high eight innings, yielding one hit while racking up eight strikeouts in Class A Advanced Potomac's 2-1 win at G. Richard Pfitzner Stadium.
"Definitely a memorable one for me," Dickson said. "It was just one of those nights where I felt like all of my pitches were on. I felt comfortable being able to locate three pitches for strikes, at the bottom of the zone. And when you pound the zone, good things happen."
The 23-year-old right-hander retired the last 11 batters he faced in winning his third consecutive decision. He improved to 4-8 while lowering his ERA to 4.78.
"This is easily my best start this year, definitely my best start in pro ball," he said. "This is the sharpest my stuff has been in my career."
Dickson hit Alex Monsalve with a pitch and yielded a two-out single to LeVon Washington in the second inning, walked Jerrud Sabourin and threw a wild pitch in the fourth and walked Washington in the fifth. After the second free pass, James Roberts grounded into a double play, marking the beginning of the Lafayette College product's string of 11 in a row retired.
"I didn't even realize that it was 11 in a row to end it," Dickson said. "Honestly, the defense made some great plays behind me. I felt like we were able to keep the ball on the ground all night and let those guys do the work for me, so that was great.
"And also, it's always a plus when me and [catcher] Pedro [Severino] are on the same page, all game, from the get-go. I felt like we were in tune, so that always helps."
Dickson induced 10 groundouts and three flyouts. The eight innings bested his previous career high by two full frames while the eight strikeouts matched a season high, now achieved three times. It also was his third scoreless start this year.
"I was trying to keep things simple," the 2011 35th-round pick said. "I wasn't trying to look too far down the road, tried to stay in the moment."
Dickson was drafted by the Cubs three years ago and traded to the Nationals for right-hander Henry Rodriguez in 2013. Saturday certainly marked a career highlight.
"Everybody came up and congratulated me individually, which meant a lot to me," the New York native said. "It's always nice to have those guys, who are pretty much brothers, to come up and give you that praise. It's a very rewarding feeling."
Jake Walsh replaced Dickson for the ninth inning and struck out Yhoxian Medina before serving up a triple to Yandy Diaz and a single to Sabourin that cut the margin to one run. After Walsh got Monsalve to ground into a forceout, he made way for Gilberto Mendez, who struck out Joe Sever to earn his 11th save.
Carolina starter D.J. Brown (2-7) gave up two runs -- one earned -- on six hits and a walk with five strikeouts over six innings. Severino homered off the righty in the third.