To a pitcher overcoming struggles, a no-hitter would be nice, but making adjustments and sealing a victory are more important.
That was the case Monday night for Aaron Thompson, who pitched six no-hit innings in Harrisburg's 3-0 shutout of Portland. Jack Spradlin and Adam Carr got the no-no bid into the ninth, before a double off Zech Zinicola ended the Senators' attempt to wrap up their second no-hitter of the month.
Thompson (4-9), who struck out six and walked six in his 97-pitch outing, has a 5.63 ERA in 15 starts for Double-A Harrisburg. But the left-hander has allowed five runs over his last 18 1/3 innings.
"I've been struggling a little the past couple of months," he said. "More than anything it's just working from ahead in the count. If you can get that strike one, you put the pressure on them."
Thompson was a first-round pick of the Florida Marlins in 2005 who was acquired by the Nationals on July 31, 2009 for Nick Johnson.
"Pitching is such a mental thing," Thompson said. "I had been putting so much pressure on myself to be in the bigs now. You can throw no-hitters with six walks in the Minors all day, but really six walks isn't very good."
Spradlin followed Thompson on the mound, and he struck out all four batters he faced. Alex Carr set down the only two Sea Dogs he faced.
"The best thing about that was Spradlin came and set next to me in the dugout and asked me what was I doing and what was working against those guys," said Thompson, who throws a fastball, a sinker, a slider and a curveball. "I think when you have a three-run lead, it's not about maintaining the no-hitter, it's about maintaining the lead. As long as we can get the win, nobody gets hurt."
Zech Zinicola struck out Luis Exposito to begin the ninth, but Anthony Rizzo lined a double past the glove of first baseman Chris Marrero into right field. Zinicola, who combined with Chuck James and Cole Kimball on the June 10 no-hitter against Altoona, rebounded to retire the final two batters for his eighth save.
Marrero drove in two runs with a pair of groundouts for the Senators (37-40). Brad Coon reached base three times and scored twice, while Jhonatan Solano smacked an RBI double.