Charlotte Stone Crabs pitching coach Bill Moloney had some pretty simple instructions for Felipe Rivero on Friday night.
"He did what I tell him to do. I tell him to get outs with the least pitches as possible," Moloney said. "Tonight, he listened to me for once."
Throwing only 71 pitches, the Rays' No. 18 prospect pitched a six-hitter for his first career complete game and shutout as Class A Advanced Charlotte blanked Palm Beach, 4-0, to earn a split of its doubleheader.
Rivero (4-3) issued just one walk and lowered his ERA to 3.55.
"He threw seven innings on 71 pitches. That's pretty awesome for seven innings," Moloney said. "Had it been a nine-inning game, he'd have gone out for the eighth."
Despite averaging a strikeout per inning in his first 11 starts of the season, Rivero did not record a single punchout. The 21-year-old left-hander features a low- to mid-90s fastball, a changeup and a slurve.
The Cardinals stacked their lineup with eight right-handed hitters. While left-handed batters were hitting .176 against Rivero, righties had a .289 average.
"Palm Beach was coming out aggressive, swinging early in the count," Moloney said. "[Rivero] was making pitches, locating his pitches pretty good, and they were basically getting themselves out."
In April, Rivero worked with Moloney and Rays pitching coordinator Dewey Robinson on maintaining a higher arm slot, and it's been paying off.
"It's a work-in-progress and tonight he did it," Moloney said. "That's what he needs to do, not work underneath his off-speed pitches and fastball."
All the scoring came on one play in the bottom of the fifth. With the bases loaded, Willie Argo lined a single that got past Cardinals center fielder Matt Williams and cleared the bases. When second baseman Ronny Gil made an errant relay throw, Argo came all the way around to score.
"The center fielder put a good charge on it, I guess the ball sort of snaked and it got by him," Moloney said. "It was a Little League home run -- just keep running until they tag you out."
Stone Crabs second baseman Hector Guevara went 2-for-3 with a double and a run scored, while left fielder Taylor Motter singled and recorded his team-leading 16th stolen base.
Starter Jay Voss (0-2) allowed three runs -- two earned -- on two hits over four innings for Palm Beach, which won the opener, 12-9.