BINGHAMTON, N.Y. — Mitch Atkins has started more games than any active pitcher in minor-league baseball.

Not many of his starts were better than his effort Friday night.

Atkins struck out nine in seven scoreless innings to lead the Portland Sea Dogs to a 3-0 win over the Binghamton Mets in the opener of a three-game Eastern League series.

“That’s the best I’ve felt in a while,” the 30-year-old right-hander said.

Atkins (4-7) combined with Jake Drehoff and Luis Ysla on a four-hitter. Ysla pitched a hitless ninth for the save.

Binghamton managed just three singles and put two runners in scoring position against Atkins.

“The story of his game was his fastball. He got 14 swings and misses with it,” Sea Dogs Manager Carlos Febles said. “He got his cutter working for him, too. He had a good curve to mix in, too.

“Something he did well was work ahead and force the opposition to swing at pitches out of the zone.”

The former seventh-round draft pick by the Chicago Cubs out of Elon University has started 240 games for five different farm systems. He has 10 major league appearances, with the Cubs and the Orioles.

“I had another good game where I had a no-hitter going, those two are probably the best I’ve had in a long time,” Atkins said. “I really can’t put a finger on it. You just keep working and try to figure something out.

“Something clicked early on and I just kind of rode it.”

Atkins ranks second among active minor league pitchers in innings pitched (1,400) and strikeouts (94), and is fourth with 86 wins. He has a 4.66 earned-run average this season.

“If I could throw like that all the time, if I could take that stuff out there, I’d be real happy,” Atkins said. “It was a lot of fastballs and cutters. I was real aggressive with those and tried to move the fastball in and out and up and down.”

Mauricio Dubon and Cody Decker had solo home runs for the game’s first two hits and first two runs.

Dubon connected with one out in the third and Decker with one out in the fourth.

Atkins retired the first eight batters he faced and did not give up a hit until the fourth inning.

His nine strikeouts were a season high. He did not walk a batter while throwing 71 of 98 pitches for strikes.

Henry Ramos singled home the last run in the sixth inning.

The series concludes with games Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.