Urias can turn lights out in relief role too

Dodgers' No. 2 prospect allows one hit over five scoreless innnings

Rancho Cucamonga's Julio Urias has struck out a career-high nine hitters in consecutive starts. (Conner Penfold/MiLB.com)

By Mark Emery / MiLB.com | August 19, 2014 2:27 AM ET

Julio Urias might be used to starting, but that doesn't mean he can't dominate in a relief role.

The Dodgers' second-ranked prospect entered Monday's game after scoreless single frames by rehabbing big leaguer Chris Perez and Geoff Brown. Urias promptly delivered five shutout frames in Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga's eventual 6-1 loss to Lake Elsinore. He allowed one hit and two walks while matching his career high with nine strikeouts.

The 18-year-old's first two innings were his rockiest. After notching the first two outs of the third, he hit Mallex Smith with a pitch and walked Jose Rondon before setting Benji Gonzalez down on strikes. He began the fourth by fanning Jeremy Baltz, but then allowed a single to Gabriel Quintana, beaned Alberth Martinez and walked Duanel Jones. To escape the jam, he struck out Dane Phillips and got Jeudy Valdez to ground into a forceout.

That marked the beginning of a stretch of 11 in a row that Urias would retire. He whiffed two batters in the fifth and struck out the side in the sixth as part of his perfect final three frames.

His nine strikeouts tied the career high that he set in his previous outing on Aug. 13, in which he allowed one run over five innings against San Jose. He also matched his season high for innings at five, which he has reached three times.

Over 23 games (18 starts), the native of Mexico owns a 1-2 record and a 2.68 ERA. He has compiled a 96-34 strikeout-to-walk ratio across 77 1/3 innings with a WHIP of 1.18 and an opponents' average against of .207.

His latest start was aided by a solo home run from Chris Jacobs in the fourth, but the game got away from Rancho Cucamonga -- and the win from Urias -- in the eighth. Reliever Craig Stem (0-2) was tagged with five runs on five hits and one walk in two-thirds of an inning. He struck out two and threw a wild pitch.

Lake Elsinore starter Elliot Morris gave up one run on four hits and fanned eight over six innings. Genison Reyes (1-1) picked up the win with two scoreless frames. He allowed two hits and a walk while striking out four.

Perez, who landed on the disabled list on Aug. 4 because of bone spurs in his right ankle, induced two groundouts and a strikeout in a 1-2-3 first inning.

Mark Emery is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @Mark_Emery. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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