Bulls' Karns unhittable for six innings

Resurgent Rays prospect records season-high 10 strikeouts

Nathan Karns has not allowed more than three earned runs in a start since June 30. (Cliff Welch/MiLB.com)

By Robert Emrich / MiLB.com | August 16, 2014 1:02 AM ET

Nathan Karns punctuated his second-half turnaround with a brilliant effort on Friday night.

The Rays' 15th-ranked prospect pitched six hitless frames before Durham walked off with a 1-0, 11-inning victory over Charlotte.

Karns, who did not figure in the decision, tied a season high with 10 strikeouts and issued five walks in his 24th start for the Bulls. He threw 65 of 103 pitches for strikes.

"I was just throwing strikes, really. Mixing it up and that's about it,," he said. "Nothing too special, it was just one of those days where everything was working. It's very exciting whenever you can have that type of success.

"I would have to say for the most part I kind of relied on all of [my pitches] at times. I tried to work ahead with the fastball. When I had aggressive hitters, I had to throw my off-speed [stuff] first pitch. I had to rely on all of them in different situations."

In a tight pitching duel throughout, the Bulls did not give up a hit until Josh Phegley led off the ninth with a single off Steve Geltz. Conversely, Durham was held to one hit through eight innings.

"I felt like our dugout kept it pretty loose," Karns said. "You've got to give credit to the other team. They did a great job of keeping us off the board as well. I'm just happy we were able to get through and get the 'W' at the end of the day."

Coming off a tough June in which he surrendered 25 earned runs over 21 1/3 innings, the 26-year-old right-hander has rebounded strongly. He's 5-1 with a 1.92 ERA in eight starts since June 30 and has gone at least six innings in seven consecutive outings.

"Just sticking with it," Karns said. "It's a long season, just trying to finish strong. Just continue to go every day and work hard and have the same approach. If you have a bad start, don't get discouraged and get back on the horse."

Overall, Karns is 9-6 with a 4.45 ERA an International League-leading 142 strikeouts.

Durham finally broke through when Rays No. 18 prospect Tim Beckham smacked his second single of the game to open the 11th against Eric Surkamp (3-5), took second Mike Fontenot's sacrifice and raced home on Mayo Acosta's double.

Doug Mathis followed Karns with two hitless frames out of the bullpen before giving way to Geltz, who scattered three hits while fanning five over two innings. Cory Burns (1-0) was credited with the win after escaping a bases-loaded jam in the top of the 11th.

Knights starter Andre Rienzo exited after 4 2/3 hitless innings and Frank De Los Santos gave up a single to the first batter he faced before recording the next four outs. Jarrett Casey followed with two no-hit innings and Ryan Kussmaul yielded two hits over two frames.

Robert Emrich is a contributor to MiLB.com. 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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