Drew Anderson has a fairly simple mantra on the mound, one he executed to near perfection on Saturday.
"I kind of just tell myself that, 'You're not going to hit this stuff,'" he said.
The Phillies' No. 21 prospect gave up two hits over seven scoreless innings with three strikeouts and one walk as Double-A Reading defeated Hartford, 4-1, at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Anderson (5-2) started strong, retiring the first five batters and nine of the first 11. The right-hander was better in the later innings, setting down 10 in a row from the start of the fourth. He dominated despite struggling to find much of a feel for his changeup.
Gameday box score
"I was just keeping the ball down and then mixing my pitches," the 23-year-old said. "The curveball was working good and I was able to throw it for strikes. My changeup ended up coming to me in the seventh inning, and I started throwing it [too]."
The seventh provided more of a challenge. After Drew Weeks flied out, Dillon Thomas pulled a single to left. Correlle Prime flied out, but Anderson walked eighth-ranked Rockies prospect Dom Nunez and allowed both runners to advance on a wild pitch. However, the 2012 21st-round pick got Juan Ciriaco to fly out to left.
"I think that was the toughest part, getting that last out," Anderson said. "It always is. I think I started him off with a curveball and then went away with two strikes and tried to get him to swing at a slider in the dirt, but he didn't. Then I just jammed him and threw a heater in."
Video: Reading's Anderson notches a strikeout
Anderson finished with 57 strikes among 88 pitches. Though he recorded his fourth-fewest strikeouts in 12 starts this season, he made up for it by getting eight outs on the ground and nine in the air.
"I was keeping it down and they were just hitting the first pitch, and I'm fine with that," he said.
Saturday's outing was Anderson's third straight in which he yielded three or fewer hits while completing six or more innings. The native of Reno, Nevada, has lowered his ERA from 5.14 on May 25 to a season-best 3.77. That ranks 18th in the Eastern League and second among Fightin Phils starters behind Brandon Leibrandt's 3.56.
"Just keeping the ball down really and mixing pitches." Anderson said. "That's probably the most important thing. Then just staying strong and not letting them hit me."
Alexis Rivero gave up one hit in a scoreless ninth to secure his first save of the season.
Andrew Pullin finished 2-for-4 with a triple and two RBIs, while Jiandido Tromp singled twice and plated a run for the Fightin Phils.
Starter Parker French (5-5), Colorado's 20th-ranked prospect, surrendered four runs on nine hits with one walk and four strikeouts over six innings for Hartford.