Cincinnati Reds starter Homer Bailey settled into a chair on the stage Friday night in the Pirates media room at PNC Park, an ice pack on his right shoulder soothing the wear and tear of the 115 pitches he had thrown. He looked out at the unusually large crowd attentively staring at him and deadpanned, "What happened tonight? Am I in trouble?"
Bailey gave the Pirates trouble all game. He threw the 15th no-hitter in Reds history, dominating the Pirates in a 1-0 victory.
Bailey (13-10) became the first Reds pitcher to throw a no-hitter since Sept. 16, 1988, when Tom Browning threw a perfect game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Bailey sliced his way through the Pirates lineup. Only two Pirates reached base: Clint Barmes on an error and Andrew McCutchen after a walk.
"I've been involved in a few, but this was really nerve-wracking," said bench coach Chris Speier, who is filling in for manager Dusty Baker after Baker was treated for an irregular heartbeat and a mini-stroke. "The maturation of a pitcher, and culmination to come in here and do what he did [Friday night], was phenomenal. I'm just really proud of him."
The best contact the Pirates made came in the eighth. Pinch-hitter Travis Snider lined out to left and Pedro Alvarez lined out to the left side of the infield.
"We had the infield shift on, there's a line drive right to Scott [Rolen]," Bailey said. "If he's not there that goes right between short and third. I thought that was it."
The Pirates had not been no-hit since 1971, when Bob Gibson of the St. Louis Cardinals accomplished the feat at Three Rivers Stadium. The Detroit Tigers' Justin Verlander almost no-hit them earlier this season before Josh Harrison singled in the ninth.
"You stay around long enough, you're probably going to taste one," said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, who had never been involved with a no-hitter.
The no-hitter clinched the Pirates' 20th consecutive non-winning season. They can reach .500 by winning their final five games, but their next loss secures their 20th losing season in a row.
Bailey entered the game with a 7-2 record and a 2.83 career ERA against the Pirates. This season, that ERA climbed to 4.56 in four starts before Friday night. He had thrown two complete games in his career, both of them against the Pirates.
The Reds drafted Bailey with the seventh pick of the 2004 draft. He had a career 37-33 record in parts of six major league seasons with a 4.59 ERA entering the start.
"He was a little hard-headed when he first came into the league," Reds catcher Ryan Hanigan said. "He was trying to throw balls by guys. He's a four-pitch pitcher, and that's rare. All his pitches are quality. We use all of them. We used all of them [Friday night]."
Nothing came of the Pirates' first base-runner, when Barmes reached on an error in the third. McCutchen walked in the seventh and stole second. He tried to steal third, but Hanigan threw him out.
"When I saw him coming off the field, I saw him looking at the scoreboard," Hurdle said. "I wanted to ask him what it was. He had good intel. He said, 'I saw him dig in the glove and I thought he grabbed a change-up.' He threw a fastball. That's why he was looking up, to see the velocity."
Bailey's gem overshadowed A.J. Burnett's start. After the first, Burnett's command of his curveball improved and he pitched more effectively. Burnett (16-9) allowed one run on seven hits in eight innings.
Burnett found himself in trouble in the first. Brandon Phillips and Zack Cozart singled, and a walk to Joey Votto loaded the bases. Burnett fell behind, 3-1, to Todd Frazier, but Frazier flied out to right to score a run. Jay Bruce hit into an inning-ending double play, and the Reds only scored one run.
Bailey said he noticed the no-hitter in the fifth or sixth inning, when checking his innings pitched to see if he had reached 200 for the season. Once Alex Presley popped out to end the game, Hanigan and his teammates converged on the mound and later showered Bailey with beer in the clubhouse.
After a few minutes at the table, Bailey rose to attend to, among other things, his phone, which he said had 93 messages waiting for him.
Bill Brink: email@example.com and Twitter @BrinkPG. First Published September 29, 2012 4:00 AM