Pirates 1-hit by pitcher Cashner, fall to Padres
The Pirates had won six of their previous seven games and were zeroing in on a playoff berth when they rolled into Monday's game against the Padres.
But right-hander Andrew Cashner put the Pirates' countdown on hold.
Cashner was perfect through six innings and finished with a one-hitter. The Padres scraped up two runs against right-hander A.J. Burnett and held off the Pirates, 2-0.
The Pirates' lone baserunner was erased on a double play.
“Games like this happen,” said Neil Walker, who grounded out twice and flew out once. “Unfortunately, it happened tonight to us.”
The Pirates' magic number to clinch at least a wild-card berth remains at six.
Cashner (10-8) is the first Padres pitcher to face the minimum 27 batters in a shutout. He retired the first 18 batters he faced on five strikeouts, nine grounders, an infield liner and three easy fly balls to the outfield.
“I thought I had a good chance” for a perfect game, Cashner said.
Jose Tabata broke up Cashner's bid for history — no Padres pitcher has thrown a no-hitter — by drilling a leadoff single in the seventh.
Cashner needed only 97 pitches to navigate nine innings. He did not walk a batter and he struck out a season-high seven for the fourth consecutive start.
Before the game, Padres pitching coach Darren Balsley told Cashner to go to his curveball early and often.
“This is a team that doesn't hit curveballs well,” Cashner said. “I kept throwing my curveball, and it worked out.”
Cashner made things happen when he wasn't pitching, too. He reached base twice, scored a run and even stole a base. It was his second steal of the year, making him one of five pitchers in the past 10 years to have more than one steal in a season.
Cashner broke into the majors in 2010 with the Cubs and was used mostly as a reliever in his first two seasons. He was traded to the Padres after the 2011 season.
Eighteen of his 25 outings have been quality starts, which is tied for the team lead.
“He's a good, good young pitcher,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “A power arm. Not only was the stuff sharp, he was very efficient. He was throwing strikes all night long.”
Burnett (8-11) buzzed through the first three innings, whiffing five of the first 10 batters he faced.
He did it on 35 pitches, 26 of which were strikes.
The Padres put five runners on base in the fourth through sixth innings, but Burnett turned them away.
The Padres finally broke through in the seventh. Ronny Cedeno and Rene Rivera singled. Cashner bunted into a fielder's choice, forcing Rivera out at second base.
Will Venable's sacrifice fly scored Cedeno. Alexi Amarista was hit by a pitch to cap a nine-pitch at-bat, and Jed Gyorko lined an RBI single to left.
Burnett gave up six hits, walked three and struck out eight. He insisted he did not run out of steam in the seventh.
“I felt fine,” Burnett said. “They hit some balls in the hole.”