Five days ago, Erik Johnson tossed seven scoreless frames
at Wilmington, but didn't factor into the decision in Winston-Salem's 2-1 loss.
On Sunday afternoon, he repeated the feat at Potomac. This time, he notched his second Carolina League victory as the Dash blanked the Nationals, 7-0. Johnson did not allow a hit until Francisco Soriano's two-out single in the sixth frame.
"I've been having success just pounding the zone with multiple pitches," Johnson said. "If you can get ahead of hitters, it helps keep things simple."
A second-round pick out of Cal-Berkeley in the 2011 Draft, Johnson was making his fifth start with the Dash after starting the season at Class A Kannapolis, where he went 2-2 with a 2.54 ERA in eight outings. The 22-year-old right-hander is the White Sox's No. 4 prospect.
Johnson was matched up against the Nationals' top two prospects: Starter Alex Meyer, a first-round pick in 2011, who entered the game 2-0 with a 0.93 ERA in five Carolina League starts, and third baseman Anthony Rendon, who owned a .333 average in his first seven Class A Advanced games. Both are among MLB.com's Top 100 Prospects in the Minor Leagues.
He didn't particular need the pitching matchup for extra inspiration.
"I'm trying to focus on what I can do and the batters I'm facing rather than worry about the other team's pitcher. I know [Meyer] is a good one -- I'm just glad we got the win."
Johnson retired the first five batters he faced, worked around a fielding error by Dash shortstop Marcus Semien in the second, then set down the next 12 Potomac batters in order.
Johnson matched a career high with seven strikeouts. One of his victims was Rendon, who wound up ejected by home plate umpire Rich Gonzalez after arguing his called third strike in the fourth.
Meyer allowed a hit in three of his first four frames, but escaped trouble until Winston-Salem right fielder Michael Earley ripped a leadoff triple to right in the fifth. He later scored the game's first run on David Herbek's sacrifice fly.
Johnson continued to cruise until Soriano smacked a first-pitch fastball -- his 71st pitch of the game -- back up the middle for the P-Nats' first hit with two outs in the sixth. Johnson got Adrian Sanchez to fly out to end the frame, and despite allowing a pair of singles to open the seventh, escaped unscathed with a strikeout and a 6-4-3 double play.
Meanwhile, the Dash cracked the game wide open after Meyer departed. Potomac reliever Adam Carr gave up homers on consecutive pitches to Dan Black and Cyle Hankerd to open the top of the seventh, the latter of which ricocheted off the left-field foul pole. It was the 15th of the season for both sluggers. Carr yielded three more hits to the next three batters before departing. He was ultimately charged with three earned runs without recording an out, lifting his ERA from 2.84 to 3.91 in five batters.
Winston-Salem added two more runs in the eighth as Earley -- who needed a home run for the cycle -- delivering an RBI infield hit. It was his fourth four-hit game and the second in his last three outings.
Black finished the game a triple shy of the cycle and went deep for the second straight day as the Dash pounded out 13 hits. Apart from making his 20th error of the season, Semien had a rough day at the plate, going 0-for-4 with four strikeouts and a walk.
Apart from extending his personal scoreless streak to 14 innings, Johnson matched Winston-Salem's longest no-hit bid of the season. The Dash have taken a no-hitter into the sixth four times this season. Johnson threw 86 pitches -- 58 for strikes -- through seven innings, improving his Carolina League record to 2-2 with a 1.67 ERA over 32 1/3 innings. He fanned seven and did not walk a batter.
"I feel like I'm becoming more and more of a pitcher each time I go out there," he said.
J.R. Ballinger and Ryan Buch tossed a scoreless inning apiece to close out Winston-Salem's league-leading 15th shutout. The Dash finished their season series against Potomac with a 15-5 record.
Winston-Salem also completed a 4-2 road trip during which its pitching staff yielded just seven earned runs.
Meyer (2-1) suffered his first Class A Advanced loss for the Nationals. He gave up one run on four hits while striking out seven over six frames.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.