No-hitter ends Pirates' hopes for winning season
The Pirates blew their long-shot chance at a winning season in spectacular fashion Friday, getting no-hit by Homer Bailey in a 1-0 loss to the Cincinnati Reds at PNC Park.
Scouts often said Bailey, the seventh pick in the 2004 draft, has no-hit stuff. He proved it by posting the 15th no-hitter in Reds history. It also was the first time the Pirates were no-hit since Bob Gibson of the St. Louis Cardinals stymied them Aug. 14, 1971, at Three Rivers Stadium.
“I've thrown a bunch of no-hitters in my bullpens,” Bailey said, grinning. “What is no-hit stuff, really? There are a lot of things that go into it. Any no-hitter you watch, so many things have to go in your favor. One little bloop, one little miscue and there's your hit. A lot of it goes down to luck.”
Still, Bailey was barely challenged. The right-hander amassed 10 strikeouts, matching his career high. The Pirates hit only three balls to the outfield, and none of their infield outs was a tough play.
“He was hitting his spots,” said Andrew McCutchen, who was 0 for 2 with a walk. “He varied his pitches. He stayed down and away with a lot of his fastballs, hitting his spots every time. He didn't give in at all against anyone.”
Bailey faced one batter over the minimum and got Alex Presley on a pop-up to end it. As Bailey was mobbed by his teammates, he got a standing ovation from the crowd of 34,796.
“One of those real, real special moments,” Reds acting manager Chris Speier said. “And really nerve-racking.”
The Pirates have been no-hit eight times, with three of them coming against the Reds.
Bailey's no-hitter is the seventh in the majors this season. It was the Reds' first no-hitter since Sept. 16, 1988, when Tom Browning threw a perfect game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Pirates are 76-81 with five games to play, meaning they can finish no better than .500 this season. The team hasn't finished with a winning record since 1992.
Bailey (13-10) has dominated the Pirates throughout his career, winning his first six starts against them. Overall, he is 8-2 with a 2.51 ERA against Pittsburgh. In five starts at PNC Park, he is 5-0 with a 1.40 ERA. All three of Bailey's complete games have come against the Pirates.
“They have a pretty young team, and I've gotten to see them through the levels of the minor leagues,” Bailey said. “You get those familiar faces, and you have an idea of what you want to do to get them out.”
Leading off the third inning, Clint Barmes reached on a error by third baseman Scott Rolen. The ball skipped up at Rolen, caromed off his glove and landed in shallow left field.
“That play could've went either way,” said Pirates pitcher A.J. Burnett, who tossed a no-hitter in 2001. “I guess the scorekeeper doesn't like the Pirates. But you can't take anything away from Homer, the way he attacked us.”
Barmes ended up stranded. Rod Barajas popped up, Burnett struck out trying to bunt and Presley flew out to right field. Presley's long fly was the only ball the Pirates hit out of the infield in their first 20 at-bats.
The Pirates got their second baserunner when McCutchen walked with one out in the seventh. McCutchen stole second but was thrown out trying to swipe third.
McCutchen's batting average dropped to .330. He had entered the game hitting .332 and trailing San Francisco catcher Buster Posey by one point in the National League batting race.
Burnett (16-9) labored through a 24-pitch first inning and was fortunate to allow just one run. It started with back-to-back singles by Brandon Phillips and Zack Cozart. Joey Votto walked. Todd Frazier worked a full count, then lifted a sacrifice fly to right field. Phillips scored, and Cozart went to third.
Although Burnett was struggling to find the strike zone, Jay Bruce jumped on the first pitch. The result was an inning-ending double play.
“The guys were joking that I do better when I load the bases with no outs,” Burnett said. “I was able to find some pitches and got my curveball where it needed to be.”
After his early struggles, Burnett quickly got locked in. The Reds had four baserunners after the second inning, but none of them made it to second base.
Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-320-7811.