Christian Bergman has been up and down three times between Albuquerque and Colorado this season, including one rehab stint.
None of those past stints at either level saw a start like the one the right-hander had on Thursday night.
Bergman tossed seven shutout innings as the Isotopes beat the visiting El Paso Chihuahuas 3-0 to even their key five-game series at one win apiece. Albuquerque (64-67) moved back to within 4.5 games of El Paso (69-63).
Needing only 84 pitches, Bergman scattered four singles, struck out three and did not walk a batter.
"It felt good, pretty much the whole time," Bergman said. "There was one inning where I was getting a little out of my mechanics but I was able to make the adjustment on the fly, correct it and carry it through the rest of the game."
The Rockies sent Bergman back down on Sunday. He wasn’t even originally scheduled to throw Thursday, but he was moved up two days in the rotation.
"He was very excited to pitch," manager Glenallen Hill said. "He hasn’t pitched in a while. He’s been champing at the bit. Before he got called up (on Aug. 16), he was on a roll, he was starting to feel really good. Then he went to the big leagues and I think he pitched one inning.
"Since he’s been back, he’s thrown on the side a couple times and he felt good. When he feels good, he pounds the strike zone."
Bergman faced the minimum through five innings. Only one runner even reached second base against him.
"I was just trying to get ahead early," Bergman said. "That’s just what I do is throw strikes and get ahead in the count."
The first two singles Bergman allowed in the third and fifth innings were wiped out by double plays.
"The defense was awesome," Bergman said. "It was really just a good team win tonight. (Catcher) Dustin Garneau called a great game tonight. I don’t think I shook him (off) once."
As a team, the Isotopes have allowed four runs or fewer in 10 straight games. They have won eight of those games.
"I think (Wednesday) I spoke about the process and how the process can happen in different areas, hitting, fielding, pitching, it’s all coming together," Hill said. "When you execute pitches and that’s your focus, (pitching coach) Darryl Scott has said it all along, good things will happen."
Bergman’s zero walks, and the fact that relievers Justin Miller and Brian Schlitter also did not allow a free pass, was key. It’s also been a trend lately.
"We haven’t walked very many hitters and that’s a fact," Hill said. "We’re pounding the strike zone. We’re not surprised at the results."
To cap his night, Bergman even gave himself some insurance runs. Rafael Ynoa led off the seventh with a single through the left side and Alex Castellanos drew a walk. After a wild pitch moved up both runners, Bergman went from attempting a sacrifice bunt to swinging away. He connected for a line drive single down the right field line that drove in two runs and made it 3-0.
"I was just trying to do something productive, put the ball in play," Bergman said. "I got a pitch I could handle, got the ball into the outfield. It happens every once in a while."
Raimel Tapia went 2-for-4 with an RBI. Rafael Ynoa was 2-for-4 with a double and two runs scored.
One notable name absent from the lineup for the second straight game was outfielder/first baseman Stephen Cardullo. The Rockies optioned first baseman Ben Paulsen to Albuquerque on Thursday but did not announce a corresponding move.
"He’s just getting a break," was all that Hill could say about Cardullo.
The Rockies would have to make a move to add Cardullo to the 40-man roster, though they have three players — Trevor Story, Mark Reynolds, Scott Oberg — who are likely out for the season and could be shifted to the 60-day disabled list.
With or without Cardullo, the Isotopes will continue their series with the Chihuahuas on Friday at 7:05 p.m.