TRENTON, N.J. -- While the Washington Nationals sit atop the National League East, their top prospect Lucas Giolito has been on quite a run of dominance in the Double-A Eastern League.
The 21-year old right-hander, who is ranked as the top prospect in baseball by MLB.com, has allowed two earned runs or fewer in all but one of his 13 starts for the Harrisburg Senators. Giolito limited the Trenton Thunder to three runs, two earned, on Thursday night at Arm & Hammer Park.
The Nationals' first-round pick in 2012 MLB Draft did not have his best command of the season and was forced to labor throughout much of his five-inning, 92-pitch outing. Despite falling behind in three-ball counts on seven different occasions and allowing six hits and one walk, Giolito managed to limit the damage by stranding five runners and striking out seven.
"I did not have good stuff tonight," said Giolito. "I was kind of battling and they were jumping on fastballs and I fell behind on a lot of batters. I didn't think my outing was very good.
"I have things that I need to work on; I have to continue to work on mechanical stuff, I felt myself get away from good mechanics at times. When you fall behind batters they're professional hitters and they're going to get hits, so I got hit around a little bit."
After leaving runners on the corners in the opening frame, Giolito allowed just his second homer of the season to right fielder Lane Adams, who smashed his full-count offering over the wall in left-center field to lead off the second inning for the opening run of the game.
In the fourth inning, catcher Sebastian Valle laced a one out single up the middle before shortstop Cito Culver hit a well-struck triple off of Giolito into the right-field gap to plate a second Trenton run. Culver would later score on a passed ball to put Trenton ahead 3-0.
"My biggest key is getting ahead in counts," said Giolito. "When you fall behind batters you don't give yourself a good chance to keep your team in the game.
"I wasn't able to command the fastball early. I was able to throw some good change-ups in hitters counts to even it back up but I felt like I was pretty much 2-2, 3-2 to a lot of the batters and you just put more pressure on yourself in that situation."
Giolito, who suffered the tough-luck defeat, is now 5-3 with a 2.74 ERA with 69 strikeouts in 66 1/3 innings in his first full season in Harrisburg.
"My goal moving forward is to just learn from tonight and continue working on command of the fastball and get ahead of guys early," Giolito said. "It's all about consistency and allowing myself to go out there and throw all of my pitches for strikes."
Matt Kardos is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.