Neil Walker summed it up succinctly.
“Some nights you just get beat,” the Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman said.
Andrew Cashner carried a perfect game into the seventh inning and faced the minimum 27 batters in a one-hitter that sent the San Diego Padres past the Pirates 2-0 last 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 the right-hander cruised the rest of the way for his first complete game in 31 career starts.
“Cashner was throwing three quality pitches for strikes and, most importantly, he was keeping them all down in the strike zone,” Walker said. “Sometimes, you have games like this where the other guy just pitches a great game.”
The Pirates lost for the second time in eight games but remained tied for the NL Central lead with the St. Louis Cardinals, who were beaten 6-2 at Colorado.
After losing his bid for perfection, Cashner was glad he was able to induce a double play from McCutchen, who is hitting .324.
“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.”
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.
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.
Burnett said he didn’t feel any pressure in trying to match Cashner.
“It doesn’t bother me,” Burnett said. “I stick to what I do and my game plan. I just try to go out and get us back in the dugout as quick as he does.”
Pittsburgh left-handed pitcher Jeff Locke (10-5, 3.14 ERA) starts tonight against lefty Eric Stults (8-13, 4.03).