PASCO -- More than 20 years before Christian Bergman was born, two Eugene pitchers made Northwest League history, each pitching 32 consecutive scoreless innings.
During the Tri-City Dust Devils' 3-0 NWL victory over the Boise Hawks on Tuesday at Gesa Stadium, Bergman moved within 1 1/3 innings of that record, tossing seven shutout frames to bring his streak to 30 2/3.
The announced crowd of 1,984 watched the 6-foot-2 right-hander retire 12 of the first 13 hitters and scatter four hits without a walk while striking out six.
The scoreless-innings record, shared by the Emeralds' Larry Loughlin (1965) and Joseph Carboni (1966), stands at 32. But if Bergman sets the record, his mark could stand for another several decades.
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Bergman knows he's not quite there yet, but he's aware he's on the verge of NWL history. He just doesn't want to get bent out of shape trying to make it.
"You've got to do your best to forget it. When you start trying to make the perfect pitch, you're pressing too much," said Bergman, who got the win to improve to 6-3 and lower his ERA to 2.45.
"There's no secret trick. I don't try to strike out every hitter I face," he said. "I had good command of my fastball, and I used my offspeed pitches late in the count to get some outs."
Bergman didn't need much offensive support, but center fielder Brian Humphries did the lion's share of the work at the plate, going 3-for-3 with two doubles, a solo home run and three runs scored.
"As a leadoff hitter, that's what I'm trying to do. My job isn't to drive in runs. I'm supposed to get on base and score runs. I've been extremely lucky to have guys playing behind me who can bring me in," said Humphries, the Colorado Rockies' 14th-round draft pick out of Pepperdine University.
Humphries led off the bottom of the first with a double to the left-field wall and scored on Tyler Massey's RBI groundout. In the third, he got a room-service fastball on a 2-1 count from Boise starter Yao-Lin Wang and deposited it over the right-field wall for a 2-0 lead.
"As soon as I hit it, I knew," said Humphries, who also added two stolen bases in the eighth inning after drawing a one-out walk.
"There's only been two home runs to right field in this park this year, and he's got 'em both," Tri-City manager Fred Ocasio said.
If the current rotation stands, Bergman is slated for a road start Sunday against the Everett AquaSox. If he makes it through 1 2/3 innings without giving up a run, the record is his alone.
"It would mean a lot. It would be a big honor to have a record like that," said Bergman, the Colorado Rockies' 24th-round selection out of UC Irvine in 2010.
Ocasio had high hopes for Bergman coming out of extended spring training, making him the team's Opening Day starter. Bergman hasn't disappointed. In fact, he has exceeded even the highest expectations.
"I haven't seen anything like (his streak) here. It's pretty amazing," Ocasio said. "The main thing is we've got a bunch of strike-throwers, and Bergman makes them put the ball in play."
Rhett Ballard tossed two scoreless innings of relief to earn his first save for the Dust Devils.
The win gave the Dust Devils their first home sweep this season and second overall. Tri-City went on the road to sweep the Yakima Bears from July 24-26. The Dust Devils (10-4) maintain a three-game lead over Spokane (7-7), while the Hawks dropped four games back with their third consecutive loss.
NOTES: Tri-City released RHP Erik Stavert, a seventh-round pick out of the University of Oregon in 2009. Stavert spent 2009 and 2010 with the Dust Devils, combining for a 3-5 record and a 3.15 ERA. He began this season at Low-A Asheville, going 3-4 with a 7.32 ERA before getting one start in Tri-City, a 10-8 loss in Eugene. ... Dust Devils alumni update: Edwar Cabrera (2010) struck out nine batters and allowed just one run through six innings, lifting the Modesto Nuts to 3-2 home win over High Desert. Josh Rutledge (2010) also continued his hot hitting for the Nuts, going 2-for-4 to bring his average up to .344.
* Jack Millikin; 509-582-1406; firstname.lastname@example.org; read his Walk in the Park blog at sportstricities.com