Patrick Coogan's starts have either been very good or very bad this season for the Potomac Cannons, with most of them being the latter. Last night at Pfitzner Stadium, however, Coogan had by far his most dominant start, and the results were positive.

Coogan pitched seven shutout innings and struck out 11 to lead the Cannons to a 6-0 victory over Wilmington in a Class A Carolina League game. Kevin Sheredy held the Blue Rocks scoreless in the final two innings.

Potomac had a tenuous lead for most of the game, with designated hitter Andy Bevins providing RBI hits in the first and fifth innings. But the Cannons broke open the game with four runs in the seventh, led by a three-run triple by Potomac High alum Billy Deck.

Coogan entered the game with a 1-5 record and 6.04 ERA. His best start was a complete game June 28, when he allowed one run. But last night the right-hander was his most overpowering; he hadn't struck out more than five in any of his 13 previous starts.

"I really had a calmness about me tonight," said Coogan, 23, who was a third-round pick by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1997. "I wasn't excited, I wasn't thinking that much. I had four pitches going tonight, and I was able to get all four of them over the plate."

Notes: Major league veteran pitcher Alan Benes is tonight's scheduled starter against visiting Winston-Salem. Benes, who is on a rehabilitation assignment, has not pitched in the major leagues since July 1997, when he injured his shoulder. Prior to the injury, Benes was third in the National League in strikeouts.