BRADENTON -- The last time he took the mound at McKechnie Field, Orlando Castro flirted with perfection only to get unceremoniously rebuffed.
The Bradenton Marauders lefty not only fell short at his bid for history, but he received a no-decision in the team's extra-inning loss to the Lakeland Flying Tigers.
There would be no such drama Tuesday night.
Castro allowed a hit to the second batter he faced, but as he stood in front of his locker following Bradenton's 3-0 win over the Daytona Cubs, Castro was in a much happier mood.
"I just put the ball in play, because I know I have a good defense," said Castro, a native of Honduras who turned 22 in March. "They helped me (do) a good job."
Castro took care of some Cubs himself, striking out six in 6 2/3 innings, and spent a majority of the night around the plate, firing 66 of his 97 pitches for strikes. He also didn't walk anyone and has issued just seven walks this season in 49 2/3 innings.
"I don't like walks," Castro said. "I was just throwing to my defense."
Keeping Daytona off balance was a mix of fastballs and change-ups, the latter of which resulted in a strike
out of Albert Almora with two outs and two on in the third. It was the only time all night Castro let a Cub get into scoring position.
"My fastball's a better pitch, but I was working both corners," he said. "I knew I could throw a strike with both pitches."
The Marauders (21-24) did just enough offensively to support Castro, who is 3-2 with a 2.90 ERA. They totaled just three hits, but used aggressiveness on the basepaths to take advantage of the Cubs, who made two errors and allowed no earned runs.
Taylor Lewis reached on a fielder's choice in the third, stole second, went to third on a Walker Gourley grounder and scored when Daytona shortstop Marco Hernandez bobbled a slow roller off the bat of Jeff Roy.
Bradenton tacked on another run an inning later when Josh Bell drew a two-out walk, went to third on Jonathan Schwind's single and slid home on a wild pitch. Two innings later, Bell produced the game's only RBI when his forceout scored Roy.
That proved to be enough for Castro, who was removed in the seventh after allowing a two-out single to Rock Shoulders, a State College of Florida alum. Josh Smith relieved Castro and pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings to record his second save, preserving the win by striking out Shoulders with two out and two on in the ninth.
Castro, who signed with the Pirates when he was 18, has emerged as Bradenton's most reliable starter and has 28 wins in 87 games (42 starts) as a professional.
It may not be perfect. But on Tuesday, it was more than enough.
"I'm just doing my job. I work every day," Castro said. "When I work in my bullpen, I throw my change-up for a strike. And every time I wanted to throw it for a strike (Tuesday), I threw it."