The Phillies organization took a flyer on 36-year-old pitcher Scott Elarton in the offseason, and the Lehigh Valley IronPigs have reaped the benefits thus far.
The right-hander scattered three hits and one walk over six shutout innings Wednesday as Triple-A Lehigh Valley blanked Indianapolis, 1-0. Elarton (5-1) added a career-high five strikeouts and tied Pawtucket's Brandon Duckworth and Indianapolis' Jo-Jo Reyes for most wins in the International League.
Elarton did not allow more than one baserunner in any of his six frames and retired the final seven Indians batters he faced to close out his night.
Lehigh Valley manager Ryne Sandberg told the The (Allentown) Morning Call that he thought Wednesday was Elarton's "best outing of the year with his stuff, command and his pitching pitches working for him."
His hurler, however, did not concur.
"Seriously?" Elarton told The Morning Call. "I don't know where to rate it; I guess I really don't care. I guess I'm my own worst critic and I'll just take the results ... I can think of 10 different things I think I need to work on, just like after every game. It's all about the results, and I'll take it."
The 6-foot-7 righty successfully outdueled Indianapolis starter and fellow former Major Leaguer Daniel Cabrera, who allowed the game's lone run on five hits over six innings. After the game, Elarton was non-committal when discussing his battle with Cabrera.
"It's always nice to pitch with a lead but when the guy's matching you zero for zero, a real crisp game, and you kind of get in a flow out there. ... I guess I would rather have the lead, but I don't mind pitching in a tight game," Elarton told The Morning Call.
Over his last four starts, Elarton has not allowed a run in 22 consecutive innings to move his ERA to 2.06, good enough for third on the circuit. In total, he has allowed more than one run in just one of his eight starts thus far.
The 36-year-old signed a Minor League deal with the Phillies in the offseason after not playing for any organization in 2011. He had an unsuccessful turn for White Sox affiliate Charlotte in 2010, going 1-2 with an 8.24 ERA in 16 relief appearances.
Elarton, who has not pitched in the big leagues since 2008, has a 56-61 record with a 5.29 ERA in 10 Major League seasons with the Astros, Rockies, Indians and Royals.
Sam Dykstra is a contributor to MLB.com.