Tuesday night in Chicago, Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander A.J. Burnett came within four batters of throwing a no-hitter against the Cubs. But with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning, rookie Adrian Cardenas laced a 3-and-2 fastball into right field for the Cubs' first hit of the game. That came right after a curveball that just missed the strike zone, and had Burnett questioning the umpire's judgment. For want of a strike ...
Burnett was bidding for the second no-hitter of his career, and remains in line for his 13th win this season. Not bad for a guy who was essentially discarded by the Yankees after a nettlesome 2011 campaign.
Before Cardenas's hit, Burnett had allowed three baserunners. Anthony Rizzo and David DeJesus drew two-out walks in the fourth and sixth innings, respectively. And in the eighth, Burnett's errant curveball struck Darwin Barney flush on the helmet; Barney left the game, replaced by pinch-runner Jeff Baker. That brought up Luis Valbuena. He struck out swinging, but not before Baker stole second.
Next up was Cardenas, just up from the minors and pinch-hitting for the pitcher. With Baker on third base and Cardenas on first, Burnett struck out DeJesus to end the inning, and the Pirates took a 5-0 lead into the ninth inning.
He was bidding to throw the sixth no-hitter in the majors this season, and the Pirates' first since John Candelaria no-hit the Dodgers in 1976.