PITTSBURGH - The San Diego Padres have gone 45 seasons without a no-hitter. Andrew Cashner nearly put a perfect end to their drought.
The right-hander carried a perfect game into the seventh inning and faced the minimum 27 batters in a one-hitter that sent San Diego past the Pittsburgh Pirates 2-0 on Monday night.
Cashner (10-8) retired his first 18 batters before Jose Tabata grounded a clean single into right field leading off the seventh. Tabata was erased when Andrew McCutchen grounded into an inning-ending double play, and Cashner cruised the rest of the way for his first complete game in 31 career starts.
San Diego’s Andrew Cashner, right, scores ahead of the tag by Pirates catcher Russell Martin (55) on Monday.
"I've had some no-hitters broken up before and I think in previous times I've learned to stay with my game plan and keep making pitches," Cashner said. "That was a big spot in the game with McCutchen up. I kept telling myself to keep throwing my sinker where I wanted to, even though I gave up the hit on it."
The Padres, who began play in 1969, remain the only major league franchise without a no-hitter.
Cashner, who has not allowed more than three earned runs in any of his last 11 starts, did not second-guess himself about throwing a sinker to Tabata.
"I didn't want to get beat with my slider there," Cashner said. "I still think it's a great pitch. I still think it's the right pitch. That's the way it goes."
Cashner struck out seven, did not walk a batter and threw 97 pitches. He also scored from second on a single, sliding home with the second run of the game, moments before giving up Tabata's hit.
Though Cashner said he had never scored from second base or slid into home plate as a professional, he did not blame that for losing the no-hitter.
"Scoring that run helped keep me in the game," he said.
The Pirates lost for the second time in eight games after entering the day tied for first place in the NL Central with the St. Louis Cardinals, who played later at Colorado.
"Cashner was throwing three quality pitches for strikes and, most importantly, he was keeping them all down in the strike zone," Pittsburgh second baseman Neil Walker said. "Sometimes, you have games like this where the other guy just pitches a great game."
Kyle Blanks, Ronny Cedeno and Rene Rivera each had two hits as the Padres won for the ninth time in 13 games. They are 17-3 in their last 20 at PNC Park.
A.J. Burnett (8-11) took a shutout into the seventh but wound up with the loss. He allowed two runs and six hits in 6 2-3 innings, with three walks and eight strikeouts.
"A.J. pitched a heck of a ballgame himself," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.
San Diego broke through for two runs against Burnett in the seventh. Cedeno and Rivera opened the inning with singles, and Cashner bunted into a fielder's choice that left runners at the corners.
Will Venable hit a sacrifice fly, and Cashner scored on Jedd Gyorko's single to left.
The Padres left runners in scoring position in the fourth, fifth, sixth and eighth - but it didn't matter the way Cashner pitched.
"Once you get into the fifth inning, I always think about the possibility of a no-hitter," Padres manager Bud Black said. "The way Cash was throwing, where his pitch count was, the look in his eye - the whole everything was set up for a good game."