Christian Bergman allowed back-to-back singles to begin the second inning Friday night. And that was all the Bakersfield Blaze managed against the Modesto Nuts.
The Rockies prospect retired his final 21 batters and struck out eight over eight innings for his 15th win as Class A Advanced Modesto blanked Bakersfield, 2-0.
Bergman (15-5) moved into a tie for the Minor League lead in wins with Tyler Cloyd of Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He had been sitting on 14 victories since July 27, a span of four starts.
"It definitely feels good to finally get [to 15 wins]," the 24-year-old right-hander said. "I'm just hoping to stay through to the rest of the season and carry it into the playoffs."
Against the Blaze, Bergman breezed through a 1-2-3 first before allowing back-to-back singles to Steve Selsky and Juan Duran in the second. After that, it was smooth sailing. Isaiah Froneberger followed Bergman with a perfect ninth to record his seventh save.
"I was coming off a few bad starts, just wanted to get back to attacking the strike zone and getting ahead of guys and staying ahead of them," Bergman explained. "I just got in a rhythm there and carried it all the way through.
"It's comfortable when you get in that rhythm. Your confidence is high. You're not thinking, just worrying about one pitch at a time. That's when you pitch to the best of your ability, not thinking about anything else. It's kind of unconscious. It's tough to beat that, felt good the whole way through."
The 2010 24th-round pick has enjoyed considerable success in the California League, which has derailed more than its fair share of pitching careers. The Altadena, Calif., native ranks fifth with a 3.68 ERA and has issued 36 walks while striking out 118 batters in 156 2/3 innings.
Bergman knew the Cal League had a hitter-friendly reputation, but said he couldn't take the mound distracted by the environment.
"Yeah, you know there's been some speed bumps here and there. It's just about overcoming those and not worrying about whether you're pitching in a hitter-friendly park or a pitcher-friendly park," he said. "It doesn't matter, the job stays the same -- keep the ball down and just keep going after guys."
Last year, the UC-Irvine product established himself as a prospect by going 7-5 with a 2.59 ERA at short-season Tri-City. In 97 1/3 innings, he amassed 68 strikeouts and only 11 walks.
On Friday, Bergman got support from Kyle Parker, Colorado's No. 9 prospect, who slugged his 21st homer. Rafael Ortega went 2-for-4 and singled in Modesto's other run.
Bakersfield's Tim Crabbe (4-1) suffered his first loss in eight Cal League starts after giving up two runs on seven hits over five innings.