Blackburn sharp for first Double-A win

Giants' No. 8 prospect allows four hits over 6 1/3 shutout innings

Clayton Blackburn has allowed three earned runs in three starts for Richmond. (Kevin Pataky/

By Robert Emrich / | April 17, 2014 11:05 PM ET

Being down gave Clayton Blackburn a high on Thursday.

The Giants' No. 8 prospect yielded four hits over 6 1/3 scoreless innings as Double-A Richmond beat Altoona, 2-1.

Blackburn, who struck out three and walked two, threw 47 of his 88 pitches for strikes en route to his first Double-A win. The 20-year-old right-hander retired the first nine batters before No. 5 Pirates prospect Alen Hanson walked to open the fourth inning. Blackburn didn't allow a hit until Elias Diaz singled with one out in the fifth.

"For the most part, I was trying to get ahead of hitters," Blackburn said. "I struggled in my last outing with getting ahead; it makes it harder when you're behind everybody. I was competing with my sinker, I was getting a lot of ground balls and my defense was great."

Blackburn (1-1) is coming off an outing in which he allowed four runs -- two earned -- on six hits over four innings against the Curve on April 10. The biggest difference according to the hurler was the location of his pitches.

"Last start, I was leaving the ball up," the Texas native said. "For the most part, me and both our pitching coaches [Ross Grimsley and Jerry Cram] have been working on just finishing my pitches and getting extended and letting that sinker do its action.

"Usually when I get in trouble, it's cause I'm not finishing my pitches and it stays up in the zone. I can't get away with pitching up in the zone, not being a 94-95 [mph] guy."

After winning seven games last year for Class A Advanced San Jose, Blackburn was thrilled to get his first Eastern League win in his third start.

"I'm excited," he said. "You want to get the first one off your back, so you don't have to worry about it. For the most part, I'm just working on developing pitches and getting deeper into games. I feel like I did that today. I didn't throw my breaking ball for a strike like I normally do and I struggled with my changeup, but you've got to learn from that."

Edwin Quirarte relieved Blackburn and got Jarek Cunningham to hit into a 6-4-3 double play to end the seventh. Josh Osich allowed a hit in a scoreless eighth and Derek Law allowed a solo homer to Stetson Allie in the ninth while earning his third save for the Flying Squirrels.

Jarrett Parker and Angel Villalona collected an RBI apiece for Richmond.

Nick Kingham, Pittsburgh's No. 8 prospect, allowed two unearned runs on five hits over five innings to fall to 1-1 for the Curve.

Robert Emrich is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @RobertEmrich. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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