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 Arlin came within one out on July 18, 1972, against Philadelphia.
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) tomorrow night.”
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 2 1/2 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 our job.”
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 fence.
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.