Hull shines on dismal staff

Amid the wreckage that has been the 51s' pitching staff this season, closer Eric Hull has stood tall as a beacon of light.

Hull, a 27-year-old right-hander, is 3-3 with a 2.83 ERA and 11 saves in 45 appearances this year for Las Vegas, which has the highest ERA (5.45) and has issued the most walks (544) in the Pacific Coast League.

"He's been, by far, our most consistent guy out of our bullpen," 51s manager Lorenzo Bundy said before Las Vegas pitchers allowed 17 runs and 26 hits in Thursday's loss to Tucson at Cashman Field.

The teams combined for 29 runs and 46 hits in the contest, which, at 3:59, was the longest of the season for the 51s.

Hull has been rewarded for his efforts with three promotions to the parent Los Angeles Dodgers, who optioned him back to Las Vegas on Aug. 17.

The 5-foot-11-inch, 185-pound Hull threw two scoreless innings at Houston in his major league debut on July 24 and is 0-0 with a 6.23 ERA in 4 1/3 innings, giving up three runs on four hits, with two walks and four strikeouts.

"I was happy with three of the four innings I pitched. Even the inning I ran into trouble I had two outs and was one pitch away from getting out of it," Hull said. "I learned a lot. It was a little easier to focus than I expected.

"I thought with the big crowds and all the lights and everything, it would be kind of overwhelming, but it wasn't."

Hull, who throws between 90 and 92 mph, is armed with a sneaky fastball, breaking ball, slider and occasional change-up, along with a deceptive delivery.

"He hides the ball pretty well," Bundy said. "I don't think hitters see the ball out of his hand very well, and that's one of the advantages for him."

In his first full season with Las Vegas last year, Hull went 2-4 with a 4.19 ERA and two saves in 44 games, walking 43 and striking out 78 in 73 innings.

Hull has allowed only 26 walks, with 73 strikeouts, in 60 1/3 innings this season.

"I'm consistently throwing strikes," he said. "Last year I had a few more walks, and in this league walks are your worst enemy."

Hull pitched in virtually every role for Las Vegas last season and will probably be used in middle relief by the Dodgers, but he said he enjoys closing games.

"It's kind of nice being the guy that comes in late," Hull said. "Usually the game's on the line and you have to perform or we lose."

• NOTE -- Delwyn Young hit his league-leading 46th double of the year to tie Kevin McReynolds for the Las Vegas' single-season franchise record, set in 1983.