Jameson Taillon knows his innings are numbered this season, and on Sunday, he made every pitch count.
The Pirates' top prospect struck out a career-high nine batters over four innings, holding Lexington to just three hits in Class A West Virginia's 9-0 rout Sunday afternoon in Charleston, W.Va.
The No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 Draft held Lexington hitless into the third, when Ruben Sosa singled with one out. Taillon struck out the side in the fourth amidst two baserunners -- Ben Heath singled and Emilio King doubled with one out, but Taillon stranded both when he caught Roberto Pena looking and struck out Bryce Lane to end the frame.
Taillon did not walk a batter in his third straight solid start -- he's held opponents to just two earned runs over his past three outings, with 18 strikeouts in that span. Nine of the 12 outs he recorded Sunday came via the strikeout -- he popped up two batters and allowed just one ground ball in his 22nd start.
"I've been pretty solid lately, [it's nice] to see the results come through after the work I've put in and the side sessions I've put in," Taillon said last week after his previous start, when he held Greensboro to one hit over five innings. "It's all started to come together."
The right-hander struck out two in a perfect first but dealt with a baserunner in the second when he beaned King with two outs. Pena went down looking to end the inning, Taillon's second strikeout of the inning and fourth of the game.
The South Atlantic League All-Star struck out Hector Rodriguez in the third, but a passed ball by catcher Kawika Emsley-Pai allowed Rodriguez to reach first.
Taillon, who signed with the Bucs for $5.6 million in 2010, is 2-3 with a 4.16 ERA and 94 strikeouts in 88 2/3 innings this year. His eight strikeouts over 4 2/3 innings June 14 against Greensboro had been his previous best.
Pittsburgh has been careful in controlling how many innings the right-hander logs in his first professional season -- he has yet to pitch past the fifth inning of a start this year.
Lefty Justin Ennis (5-2) picked up the win after relieving Taillon in the fifth. The LSU product allowed two hits and struck out one in three innings before Indian "Million Dollar Arm" contest-winner Rinku Singh worked around a hit in the eighth. Right-hander Jason Townsend pitched a perfect ninth to finish the shutout.
The Power pumped out 19 hits and scored in all but three innings. Arizona State alum Drew Maggi had four hits, third baseman Chase Lyles homered in the seventh and Eric Avila went 2-for-3 with three runs scored and an RBI.
Lexington starter David Martinez (5-6) was charged with five runs -- four earned -- on 10 hits in four innings to suffer his sixth loss.