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Friday night in Pittsburgh, Reds right-hander Homer Bailey pitched a brilliant no-hitter against the Pirates, allowing just two baserunners in the game on his way to a 1-0 victory.
It wasn't a perfect year, though. On the 14th of August, with Roberto Clemente out of the lineup, they were no-hit by future Hall of Famer Bob Gibson. That was more than 41 years ago. And in those 41-plus years, through thick and thin and ups and downs, the Pittsburgh Pirates had not been the victims of another no-hitter.
Until the last Friday of the 2012 season. On the 6th of August, the Pirates were riding high, 62-46 and with the inside line on one of the National League's wild-card postseason berths. They would, if nothing else, almost certainly enjoy their first winning season since 1992. Except everything fell apart. Friday night, they lost for the 35th time in their last 49 games. Worse, Friday night the Pirates failed to get a hit for the first time in more than 41 years, a span that included 6,541 games.
As if all of that weren't enough, it was the Pirates' 81st loss of the season. So their quest for a winning season, something that many of their fans literally cannot remember, will continue for at least one more year. Oh, and Friday night's loss merely added to the franchise's major professional record for consecutive losing seasons (North America Division).
Homer Bailey and the Cincinnati Reds are in a completely different place. While Bailey hadn't been outstanding this season, he's finally established himself as a reliable major-league starter, and had presumably locked down a spot in the Reds' postseason rotation.
If not, he certainly did that Friday night with his no-hitter, the seventh in the majors this year. It was just the third complete game and the second shutout in his six-year career, during much of which he's fought against injuries and ineffectiveness. Not Friday, though.
Friday, Bailey would give up only two baserunners. In the third inning, Clint Barmes led off with a grounder to third baseman Scott Rolen, but he botched the play and Barmes reached safely. Bailey retired the next three Pirates in order. In the sixth, Andrew McCutchen reached on a one-out walk, then stole second. Bizarrely, McCutchen also tried to steal third -- the Reds were ahead 1-0 on Todd Frazier's first-inning sacrifice fly -- and was thrown out. Garrett Jones lofted a deep fly ball to end the inning.
And that was it for the Pirates. In the third, Frazier made a nice play on Alex Presley's fly ball down the left-field line. And in the eighth, Pedro Alvarez lined out to Rolen, who was essentially playing shortstop with the infield shifted. In the bottom of the ninth, the score still one-nothing, Bailey struck out pinch-hitter Brock Holt and got pinch-hitter Michael McKenry on a fly to left. And the no-hitter went into the books when Presley lifted a high pop to short center field, where Brandon Phillips gathered it in.
It was the 15th no-hitter in Reds history, but their first since Tom Browning threw a perfect game in 1988. Browning's gem also came in a 1-0 game, also in September. The tough-luck loser in that one was Dodgers right-hander Tim Belcher, who gave up only three hits and one walk in seven innings. Friday night, the tough-luck loser was Pirates right-hander A.J. Burnett, who gave up seven hits and one walk in eight innings.
Meanwhile, Cincinnati seems primed for the postseason. They're tied with the Nationals for the most wins in the majors, and they haven't lost more than two games in a row since early August.