CHICAGO -- A.J. Burnett was four outs away from a no-hitter. Instead, he earned a standing ovation from the Wrigley Field crowd.
Burnett pitched a one-hit, complete game shutout as the Pirates beat the Cubs, 5-0, Tuesday night.
Neil Walker hit his second career grand slam and drove in five runs, tying a career high, to spark the Pirates' offense.
It was Burnett's first complete game since May 16, 2007, then with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Pinch-hitter Adrian Cardenas broke up Burnett's no-hitter with a line-drive single into right field with two outs in the eighth inning, spoiling what would have been Burnett's second career no-no. Cardenas also spared the Cubs from being no-hit for the first time in 47 years, the longest streak in the major leagues.
Burnett struck out seven and allowed one hit and two walks. It would have been the seventh no-hitter in franchise history and first since Francisco Cordova and Ricardo Rincon combined for a 10-inning no-hitter against the Houston Astros on July 12, 1997, at Three Rivers Stadium.
The conditions were ripe for a dominant pitching performance. The wind at Wrigley Field was blowing in from right field, and the Cubs had traded away two offensive starters the previous day.
Burnett recorded his no-hitter in 2001 as a member of the Florida Marlins in a 3-0 victory against the San Diego Padres.
He is now 6-1 when pitching after a Pirates' loss after earning his team-leading 13th win of the season, also tied for the second most in the National League.
Burnett's strong night helped end a two-game skid for the Pirates, who moved three players off its active roster Tuesday, either by trade or roster move.
Cubs starter Casey Coleman took the loss and left the game with two outs in the fifth inning, having surrendered four earned runs on seven hits. Coleman struck out five and walked four.
But the pitcher the Pirates (59-44) beat Tuesday night was not originally supposed to start the game. Those duties initially belonged to Ryan Dempster, who was traded to the Texas Rangers four hours before first pitch in a deadline deal.
Before he left to join his new team, Dempster joked with reporters that he probably would have thrown a no-hitter against the Pirates on Tuesday night.
Since the start of the series Monday, the Cubs (43-59) traded away four of its players for prospects.
Walker's grand slam gave the Pirates a 4-0 lead in the first inning. He waited for a 2-1 changeup and sent it high into the sky, where the wind held it up a bit. When the ball landed in the second row of the right-field bleachers, Walker pumped his first before high-fiving first-base coach Luis Silverio.
It was the 11th home run of the season for Walker, who also hit his first career grand slam at Wrigley Field in 2010.
The newest Pirate, right fielder Travis Snider, got the Pirates' offense going with a one-out infield single in his first at-bat with his new team. Andrew McCutchen followed with his own infield single, and Garrett Jones drew an eight-pitch walk to load the bases for Walker.
Snider finished the game 1 for 4 with two runs, walk and a strikeout.
Walker extended the Pirates' lead in the seventh inning with a sacrifice fly to left field that scored Snider and made it 5-0.
The Pirates had a good chance to extend their lead in the third inning, when they had three hits and drew a walk against Coleman. But baserunning miscues cost the Pirates several chances in the inning.
McCutchen was thrown out at the plate when Jones hit a grounder to first with no outs. Two batters later, Pedro Alvarez blasted a line drive over David DeJesus' head in centerfield. But Jones briefly held up at second, making sure the ball wouldn't be caught, and could not advance past third. In the meantime, Walker was caught in a rundown and was tagged out.
After a walk to Rod Barajas, Clint Barmes grounded into a fielder's choice to end the inning.
Michael Sanserino: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1722 or on Twitter @msanserino. First Published August 1, 2012 3:00 AM