Miguel Socolovich's two-seamer translated into a two-hitter.
Socolovich yielded one hit over six innings Friday as the Kannapolis Intimidators blanked the Lakewood BlueClaws, 4-0, at FirstEnergy Park.
A day after celebrating his 22nd birthday, the right-hander struck out three and walked two to win his second straight decision.
"It feels good," Socolovich said. "I just [kept] the ball down and commanded my fastball. I worked my two-seam fastball a lot; that and my slider."
Former 13th-round pick Tyson Corley pitched the seventh and allowed Lakewood's other hit, a one-out double by Matt Rizzotti, before Leroy Hunt struck out four and walked three over the final two innings.
"I need to keep the ball down," said Socolovich (4-4), who lowered his ERA to 4.58. "Today, the two-seamer worked for me. And if that works, I'll keep doing it."
It was more of the same for Lakewood, which was no-hit by Asheville's Bruce Billings on Wednesday and went hitless for 15 1/3 innings before Joel Naughton singled off Socolovich with one out in the sixth. Shut out in back-to-back games for the first time this season, the BlueClaws (21-13) have gone 23 innings without scoring a run.
Hunt worked in and out of trouble in the eighth when he walked Freddy Galvis, Naughton and Derrick Mitchell to load the bases with two outs. But he fanned Tim Kennelly to end the threat.
"They did a great job. And the last two innings, with the bases loaded, they kept the score intact," Socolovich said of his bullpen. "I felt great and my bullpen, they did the job."
Socolovich split the first two months of this season between the bullpen and the rotation and was 0-3 with a 6.65 ERA when the Intimidators returned him to the rotation on June 20. He is 4-1 in his last seven starts.
"This was my best start so far this season," he said. "I wanted to stay in, but the pitch count was a little bit high. That's why they took me out."
Socolovich swapped socks in January when he was shipped from Boston to Chicago for reliever David Aardsma. He made 11 relief appearances for Class A Greenville last season after going 5-4 with a 3.56 ERA for the short-season Lowell.
"I think it's no difference at all, the organizations feel the same," the Venezuela native said. "I'm working the same when I was with Boston, I feel very comfortable."
Socolovich said he felt in control all night in Lakewood, working mostly off catcher John Curtis' calls. He walked Rizzotti twice but steered clear of danger on each occasion.
"I felt comfortable. When I walked Rizzotti [in the fifth], the next hitter I threw too hard and I lost my focus," he said, referring to a passed ball that followed the leadoff free pass. "[Pitching coach Larry Owens] talked to me and we made an adjustment to keep the ball down."
Socolovich walked Rizzotti in the second but got a double-play grounder from Michael Durant and struck out Karl Bolt to end the inning.
"My hands were too high and I needed to stay back," he said. "I needed to stay back and keep my hands toward home plate."
It was the best effort for Socolovich since he allowed a run on two hits over seven innings to beat Lexington on June 25.
Sergio Morales, Jim Gallagher and Brent Morel delivered run-scoring hits in the third to give Kannapolis (16-15) a 3-0 lead. Eduardo Escobar tacked on an RBI single in the fourth.
Lakewood starter Walter Tejeda (4-6) was charged with four runs -- three earned -- on five hits and three walks, striking out one, over five innings.