SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Chris Young walked off the mound to a standing
ovation, tipped his cap to the crowd and took a prominent spot on
the list of San Diego Padres pitchers who've come tantalizingly
close to a no-hitter.
Young got within two outs of the first no-no in the Padres'
38-season history before Pittsburgh pinch-hitter Joe Randa drove a
fastball an estimated 421 feet for a two-run homer.
Young didn't even earn his first career complete game, but the
NL West-leading Padres beat the Pirates 6-2 Friday night to remain
a half-game ahead of Los Angeles.
It was the 12th time a Padres pitcher took a no-hit bid into the
eighth inning, and the second time this year Young did it.
"I hope it's something that happens a lot more, too," Young
said. "It's one of those things I can't really control. Tonight
happened to be my night. They hit some hard balls right at guys
tonight. A lot of it is just luck. That that being said, it was a
lot of fun."
This was the second-closest a Padres pitcher has come to a
no-hitter. Steve Arvin came within one out on July 18, 1972,
Young's no-hit bid against Colorado on May 30 was spoiled by
Brad Hawpe's leadoff double in the eighth.
"Really, when I'm out there, it's not something I think
about," Young said. "There's too good of pitching in this
organization. There always has been, and is going to continue to
be, to have that streak last. It's just a matter of time. I don't
think I'll be the one to do it. Who knows, it might be Jake [Peavy]
Padres manager Bruce Bochy disagreed.
"It's going to happen for him, the way he's throwing the
ball," Bochy said.
With the crowd of 40,077 on its feet and cheering every pitch,
Randa momentarily silenced Petco Park by driving a 3-1 fastball
over the center-field fence. Jose Bautista walked ahead of Randa,
who finished last season with San Diego.
The crowd then gave Young an ovation.
The no-hit bid by the 6-foot-10 right-hander came 2½ weeks after
Florida rookie Anibal Sanchez no-hit Arizona 2-0 on Sept. 6, which
ended a drought of more than two years without a no-hitter -- the
longest stretch of games in major league history.
"That's the first time in my career that I've done it, and it
gave me chills, really. It was a great feeling," Young said.
"You feel bad because the guy's worked that hard to get that
far," Randa said. "But we are all professionals and we try and do
Cla Meredith got the final out.
Young (11-5) got just his second decision in eight starts. The
win not only kept the Padres in the NL West lead, but it allowed
San Diego (81-72) to pass St. Louis (80-72) for the second-best
record in the NL.
"It was frustrating because you hate to get that close," said
catcher Mike Piazza, who caught no-hitters by Ramon Martinez in
1995 and Hideo Nomo in 1996 while with the Dodgers. "I'd rather
lose it in the seventh or the eighth, but the ninth is tough. But a
win's a win. You have to look at the big picture.
"After we got the first out of the ninth I thought he had a
chance," Piazza said. "The next hitter did a great job of taking
a lot of close pitches. We fell behind Randa and what are you going
to do? We didn't want to walk another guy there. We had to
challenge him and you saw what happened."
Keeping the Pirates off-balance with his fastball and slider,
Young retired the first 17 batters before walking Rajai Davis, who
was pinch-hitting for starter Tom Gorzelanny (2-4), with two outs
in the sixth. Davis stole second, but slid past the base and was
tagged out by shortstop Manny Alexander.
Until Randa's shot, the closest the Pirates came to getting a
hit was when Wilson hit a fly ball to deep left with one out in the
first before Ben Johnson caught the ball and then crashed into the
Gorzelanny allowed three runs and five hits in five innings.
Gonzalez hit a two-run homer to straightaway center with two
outs in the third, his team-leading 24th. Walker homered with one
out in the sixth, his ninth. Gonzalez added an RBI single in the
seventh and Johnson had an RBI triple.