A day after Francisco Liriano carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning, San Diego Padres starter Andrew Cashner did him one better. But, like Liriano’s ill-fated attempt at history, Cashner’s perfect game was spoiled when Jose Tabata led off the frame with a basehit.
Tabata’s hit proved inconsequential, though, when Neil Walker flew out to left and Andrew McCutchen hit into an inning-ending double play. Cashner (10-8) finished his outing facing the minimum 27 batters to lead San Diego (69-80) to a 2-0 victory over the Pirates (87-63).
Cashner threw a complete game, one-hit shutout, walked no batters, and struck out seven.
“He had a three pitch mix tonight, a breaking ball, a changeup, right-on-right through to the left-handers, the fastball command,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “Not only was the stuff sharp, but he was very efficient.”
The Pirates struggled to make solid contact against Cashner, who entered the game with a 52.3 percent ground ball rate and played close to that with 13 of his 27 outs Monday coming on the ground. Cashner mixed his off-speed pitches well with heat in the mid- to high-90s to prevent the Pirates from making quality contact and kept the Pirate bats off-balance all game.
“Velocity’s going to speed you up a little bit. Actually there’s more there, earlier in the season he was playing up to three-digits,” Hurdle said. “We didn’t see it when we were in the ast time we faced him, he pitched very effective the last time.”
Opposite Cashner, Pirates starter A.J. Burnett set the tempo early on but faded late while Cashner finished strong.Through six shutout innings, Burnett came out for the seventh and allowed two runs to cross before Hurdle pulled his starter for Vin Mazzaro.
Burnett allowed a lead-off single to Ronny Cedeno, Rene Rivera singled, Cashner hit into a fielder’s choice that moved Cedeno to third, and Will Venable opened the game’s scoring with a sacrifice fly to center field. After Cedeno scored, Burnett hit Alexi Amarista with a 3-2 pitch and Jedd Gyorko drove Cashner home from second with a single to left to give the Padres a 2-0 lead.
“I gave up two singles. That was it,” Burnett said about the seventh. “I felt fine. They hit some balls in the hole.”
Burnett (8-11) tallied seven and two-thirds innings Monday and allowed two runs on seven hits and two walks. Burnett struck out eight Padres, including a stretch of four straight from when he punched out Ronny Cedeno to end the third then struck out the side in the fourth.
“A.J. threw punches all night long, into the seventh,” Hurdle said. “He pitched a heck of a ballgame himself.”
A bright spot of the evening was the appearance made by Jason Grilli, who threw a scoreless eighth inning. Grilli was unable to complete a full inning in his last three outings, and got into trouble early when he allowed one-out basehits to Kyle Blanks and Cedeno.
But Grilli induced a weak groundout from Rene Rivera back to the mound, then struck Cashner out looking to end the frame.
“A line drive just over a glove, a chop ball, and he was able to finish the inning. So I think another step forward,” Hurdle said. “Plus we had him up in the bullpen yesterday, so it was a bounce-back day and he was able to answer. That was a good sign.”
Grilli’s outing was one of few positives for the Pirates Monday, as Cashner dominated from start to finish.
“He pitched pretty well, faced 27 guys I think. That’s pretty good,” Burnett said. “He came out and set the tone, and never let off the gas pedal the whole time.”