Of all the indignities that have befallen the Pittsburgh Baseball Club over these 16-plus losing seasons, perhaps no single event might have matched what nearly occurred last night.
Yusmeiro Petit, Arizona's immensely struggling starter with a 1-5 record and 6.75 ERA, fell six outs short of no-hitting the Pirates in the Diamondbacks' 6-0 whitewash at PNC Park. Ronny Cedeno's line-drive single in the eighth inning broke it up, prompting polite applause from the 11,294 on hand and some shake-it-off pacing around the mound from Petit.
"I'm not disappointed at all," Petit would say later, with catcher Miguel Montero translating his Spanish. "I feel good because I threw a good game and got the win."
He had to settle for eight scoreless innings -- one hit, three walks -- and the Pirates were stuck with their 13th shutout. There were seven all last season.
"We just weren't able to get anything going," manager John Russell said. "You can't take anything away from their guy. He pitched a great game, obviously."
No one has no-hit the Pirates since Bob Gibson, Aug. 14, 1971, at Three Rivers Stadium, in an 11-0 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. That was the only no-hitter of the seven against the Pirates that happened in Pittsburgh.
• Game: Pirates vs. Arizona Diamondbacks, 7:05 p.m., PNC Park.
• TV, radio: FSN Pittsburgh, WPGB-FM (104.7).
• Pitching: RHP Ross Ohlendorf (9-8, 4.43) vs. LHP Doug Davis (5-10, 3.73).
• Key matchup: The Pirates' current everyday eight has a combined career average of .205 against Davis -- 7 for 34 -- highlighted by Steve Pearce going 2 for 4 with a walk.
• Of note: Arizona's 88 errors are second only to the Washington Nationals' 98 in the National League. The Pirates have the fewest, with 45.
Arizona management was poised to demote Petit, a promising 24-year-old right-hander, back to Class AAA after the Pirates smacked him around for six runs and nine hits July 24 in Phoenix. But the Diamondbacks had key pitchers out with injuries and no one to replace him.
This was quite the turnaround.
"I'm so happy for Petit," Arizona manager A.J. Hinch said. "He threw quality strikes and got a ton of first-pitch outs."
The total was five, and he was able to get an out with two or fewer pitches nine times.
"He was in complete control," Hinch said. "It's the nature of a pitcher, when he's got the lead, to go right after guys. He was able to do it with multiple pitches. He threw a little cutter, a breaking ball, a changeup. He wasn't just throwing fastballs down the middle."
That probably was a good thing, considering Petit's fastball was clocked at 86-88 mph most of the evening.
The Pirates have struggled against pitchers with high ERAs all summer, but nothing like this.
Petit held them to three baserunners through seven innings -- two walks and an error -- and made only 86 pitches, so plenty should have been left in the tank for the eighth. But he opened with a seven-pitch walk to Ramon Vazquez, and Cedeno was next to break it up, lashing a 1-2 changeup into left field.
Petit and Cedeno had faced each other previously in Venezuela, also Cedeno's native country.
"I know the way he likes to hit," Petit said. "He had a good at-bat."
He added that the no-hitter kind of sprung up on him.
"I found out I was throwing a no-hitter in the fifth because a fan was screaming. I didn't know if the line drive Cedeno hit to right earlier in the game was a single or an error."
That was a two-base error charged to right fielder Justin Upton for dropping a liner in the third.
"My last at-bat was tough," Cedeno said. "Petit was throwing a lot of good pitches. I tried not to put too much pressure on myself. Just put the ball in play."
No pressure in a no-hitter?
"Oh, for sure. And there was one hit. I'm lucky to get it."
"As hitters, you recognized the situation and you do think about it," first baseman Steve Pearce said after going 0 for 3 with a walk. "But this guy was tough. He was getting ahead of everyone, then, once he did, we started getting anxious and swinging early. He was good."
Zach Duke, for a change, was not.
He was tagged for three home runs as part of a five-run, nine-hit line over five innings. Ryan Roberts homered off him in the third and fourth innings, and now has three of his season's four home runs off Duke. Chris Young did likewise in the fourth, and Arizona led, 5-0.
Duke had given up three home runs in a game twice previously in his career, so what was up with Roberts?
"It's been mostly bad pitches," Duke said. "He obviously has some power, but I've fed them to him."
It was that kind of night: Andy LaRoche, who has been outstanding at third base, committed two throwing errors.