It didn't take long for Nick Maronde to rediscover his form.
Making his second start since returning from a strained lat muscle, the Angels prospect tossed seven no-hit innings and struck out 10 on Tuesday. That wasn't enough for Class A Advanced Inland Empire as the 66ers dropped a 5-2, 11-inning decision at Stockton.
"I thought it went well," Maronde said. "Guys made plays behind me. I thought Randal Grichuk made the catch of the year in center to preserve [the no-hitter]. At the end of the day, though, we want to get the win."
After walking leadoff batter Chad Oberacker in the first, Mardone retired the next 12 batters. He allowed only two more baserunners -- A.J. Kirby-Jones drew a one-out walk in the fifth and Max Stassi walked with two outs in the seventh.
Part of Mardone's success was thanks to Grichuk's spectacular catch with one out in the sixth. Stockton's Leonard Gil crushed a pitch to center field, but the 2009 first-round pick climbed the wall to make the grab.
"Just throwing strikes was the key," Maronde said. "I walked the leadoff hitter and then just came back to attack the strike zone from there. Guys were playing defense behind me, and that helped a lot, too."
The 22-year-old left-hander fanned at least one batter in every inning after the first, including two in each of his last three frames. The 10 strikeouts were two short of the career high he set against High Desert on April 27.
After Maronde exited, Eric Cendejas gave up a leadoff single to B.A. Vollmuth in the eighth. The 24-year-old right-hander set down the next six batters as the game headed to extra innings.
"I wasn't too upset about [the hit]," Maronde said. "I had ice on. Like I said, I just wanted to get the win."
C.J. Cron, the Angels' No. 2 prospect, put Inland Empire in front with a two-run shot in the 10th, but Vollmuth responded with a two-run homer in the bottom of the frame. Josh Whitaker connected on a three-run walk-off blast in the 11th to give the Ports the win.
Selected in the third round of the 2011 Draft, Maronde posted a 2.83 ERA in six starts for the 66ers before going on the DL. He missed more than two months, then returned to the California League on July 11 and gave up three hits over five scoreless frames.
"It feels great to be off the DL," Maronde said. "I feel like I can actually contribute to the team. I felt like I was dead weight for a while."
On the season, Maronde owns a 2.11 ERA with 46 strikeouts over 47 innings. He said his aim this year was to carry over his success from 2011, when he posted a 2.14 ERA in 11 starts for Rookie-level Orem. So the injury hasn't set back his goals too much.
"I wanted to pick up from where I left off last year," Maronde said. "I wanted to throw well and go out there and compete every day. So missing time stinks, but I think I can make that up in the fall by going to [the instructional league]. I'm just worried about making the playoffs now."