The Ducks needed a big game Wednesday night and, as he did so often last season, righthander Bobby Blevins delivered. Blevins threw eight shutout innings, allowing three hits with four strikeouts in a 1-0, 13-inning win over the first-place Somerset Patriots.

After splitting the first two games of the series, Blevins' performance assured that the Ducks would walk out of Somerset with at least a series split. The Ducks won again Thursday night, 5-1, to take three of four from the Patriots and go a game up on the first-half champions in the Liberty Division's second-half race. The Ducks beat last-place Camden, 14-5, on Friday to remain a game in front heading into weekend action.

Blevins, 30, is in his fourth season on Long Island. After a stint in Taiwan this spring, Blevins re-signed with the Ducks in mid-June. He is 2-3 with a 4.61 ERA in nine starts.

After Camden, the Ducks Monday begin a three-game set in Bridgeport and that series could be more important than last week's Somerset series because if Somerset wins the second half, a wild-card spot opens up and the Ducks hold a commanding lead in that race.

Bridgeport entered play last night two games behind the Ducks in the second-half standings. If Bridgeport were to win the second half, the Ducks likely would find themselves out of the playoffs for the second straight year. A wild-card spot would also open up if Southern Maryland won the second-half Freedom Division title, but they entered the weekend in last place.

The scheduled starter for the opener in Bridgeport tomorrow night? Blevins.

When you're in a big game, does it feel different?

Absolutely. There's a little more sense of urgency right now because it's coming down to the playoff push. These games all matter . . . We have to have our best game out there, play well, pitch well, and come up with timely hitting. That's what we've been doing lately. We're on a hot streak, which is great.

How do you approach the bigger games?

You limit your mistakes. You take it one pitch at a time and minimize [mistakes].

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What worked well for you Wednesday?

I had command of my fastball on both sides of the plate, stayed aggressive and worked down in the zone.

Where do you think you are, as a pitcher, in relation to where you want to be at this point after the stint in Taiwan?

I've had a rough couple of outings here and there. It was a rough start. But, physically and mentally, I'm finally back to where I need to be. I feel comfortable out there. [Wednesday night], I went out there with the mindset that it was a playoff game. It's coming down to the last 30 games. Every game matters. We're in a playoff hunt and I took it out there after a big win [Tuesday] and kept the momentum going. I treated it like game one of the playoffs.

What makes Bridgeport so good?

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They're playing baseball the right way. They're making plays, getting timely hitting, and are going out there with nothing to lose. When you have a team that's going out there with nothing to lose and are playing loose and free, it's a scary team. We have a big 'X' on our back on Long Island. Everyone brings their 'A' game against us.

Next up: Camden at Ducks, 5:05 p.m. today.