The past three weeks had not been kind to Stephen Gonsalves, but the Twins' second-ranked prospect was able to break that cycle on Saturday night for Triple-A Rochester.
MLB.com's No. 69 overall prospect carried a no-hitter into the sixth and exited after 5 2/3 scoreless frames, yielding one hit and three walks in the Red Wings' 6-2, 10-inning win over Buffalo at Coca-Cola Field. He struck out five and lowered his ERA to 5.10 in his sixth scoreless outing of the season.
Video: Rochester's Gonsalves notches fifth strikeout
"I focused on just throwing and trying to get back to myself," Gonsalves said. "Once you see yourself succeed, you kind of just lock in on that feeling and kind of go from there and get that drive because you know you can succeed and you've done it before.
"You've just got to trust yourself and trust your pitches and trust the defense behind you and good things will happen."
In his previous three starts, Gonsalves saw his ERA climb by 3 1/2 following a stretch in which he surrenderd 17 runs over 10 1/3 innings.
The lanky left-hander's troubles began with a May 29 start in Durham, where he allowed five runs without making it out of the first inning. He seemed to right the ship in his next outing against Indianapolis and yielded three runs over 5 2/3 innings but faltered again in his last start, giving up nine runs over four innings against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
"I haven't really had my fastball command," Gonsalves said, noting that he kept his heater in the zone 40 times in 59 offerings. "The past couple weeks, we've been kind of cleaning up mechanics, so that's been my focus and I don't think my competitive edge was there."
Gameday box score
Prior to that stretch, the 2013 fourth-round pick was mostly downright dominant but showed he was susceptible to a bad outing. Excepting a May 11 start against the RailRiders in which he was charged with six runs in 1 2/3 innings, Gonsalves had allowed one run in his four other International League starts before hitting the rough patch.
"I think after my first two starts giving up no runs ... I got a little comfortable and was kind of looking ahead and not trusting the process," Gonsalves said. "I got a little ahead of myself and I got to realize where I'm at and that there's still things to work on.
"I just had to compete and it was an easy click because we're obviously trying to get to the big leagues and you can't get to the big leagues throwing balls."
The San Diego native was at the top of his game on Saturday but required a lot of pitches. He worked around a first-inning walk to Dwight Smith Jr. before back-to-back perfect frames, striking out the side in the third. Gonsalves erased Steve Pearce's leadoff walk in the fourth by getting Smith to bounce into a double play and cruised through a 1-2-3 fifth.
Video: Red Wings score four on Gordon's wild single
The 23-year-old entered the sixth having thrown 65 pitches but needed 20 more to get two outs, mixing in an 11-pitch walk to Gift Ngoepe. He got into another long battle with Pearce, a rehabbing big leaguer who knocked a base hit into center field on the seventh pitch of the at-bat, ending Gonsalves' night.
"We were actually cruising pretty well and, after I gave up that walk, I kind of lost my mental focus a little bit. I kind of lost my competitive edge," he said. "We just have to be able to go from there and be able to stay focused and improve."
Tyler Duffey kept Gonsalves' line scoreless before combining with Gabriel Moya to hand the game to Alan Busenitz with a 2-0 lead in the ninth. The 27-year-old right-hander gave up a base hit to Lourdes Gurriel Jr. before Rowdy Tellez forced extra innings with his fifth homer of the season.
In the 10th, a pair of walks loaded the bases for Twins' No. 3 prospect Nick Gordon, whose line drive single to center ended up scoring four runs following an error by catcher and Blue Jays No. 6 prospect Danny Jansen.
Gordon also doubled and drove in the game's first run with a sixth-inning sacrifice fly.