Zeke Spruill would prefer to leave his bullpen help ... in the bullpen. But if his manager feels otherwise on a given night, like Saturday, there's nothing Spruill would rather see than relievers extend his success for him.
"I love seeing that," Spruill said. "That's my favorite thing to see when I come out and give the ball to one of the guys."
The Braves' No. 9 prospect tossed seven innings and his replacements tag-teamed the eighth and ninth as Double-A Mississippi edged the Birmingham Barons, 1-0.
"I was hoping to go back out for the eighth," Spruill said. "But, for me, if I go seven, I did my job."
Spruill scattered three hits -- a leadoff single by Tyler Saladino in the first, a two-out double by Kenneth Williams in the third and a one-out single by Jared Mitchell in the fifth. The 22-year-old right-hander also issued two walks while striking out three. He recorded 10 outs on the ground.
"The guys played really good 'D,'" Spruill said. "Our defense always has to be play good defense for me because I'm not going to strike a lot of guys out.
"With two-seam fastballs, I can get in on right-handed hitters pretty well, and that helped me to keep them from getting solid contact."
Spruill threw 55 of 90 pitches for strikes. Ryan Buchter, Cory Rasmus and Mark Lamm, who earned his second save, worked the final two innings to complete Mississippi's second shutout of the season.
A 2008 second-round pick, Spruill reached Double-A for the first time in his fourth year of pro ball last season. He went 3-2 with a 3.20 ERA in seven outings.
The Chesapeake, Va., native earned his first victory this year with six solid innings against Montgomery on April 11. Last Monday, however, he gave up seven runs on 14 hits over six innings against Jacksonville.
"I feel like I didn't execute my pitches very well in my last start," Spruill said. "Typically, I try to keep my two-seamer on the corners and my slider [just] outside of the strike zone, and I wasn't able to do that in my last start."
Barons starter Jose Quintana yielded the game's lone run in the second as Matthew Kennelly singled home Joe Leonard with two outs.
Quintana (0-2), the White Sox's No. 19 prospect, allowed five hits, walked three batters and struck out seven over seven innings.
"I don't even know that he went seven innings," Spruill said. "I was just trying to keep us in the ballgame."