Padres 5, Pirates 0: Offense gets 2 hits in third loss in row
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Two situations that deviated from the established norm of the second half of the Pirates' season converged Saturday night. A.J. Burnett pitched poorly and the offense struggled to score.
San Diego Padres starter Jason Marquis was largely responsible for the latter. He dominated the Pirates, taking a no-hitter through six innings in a 5-0 defeat of the Pirates at PNC Park.
The third-largest crowd in PNC Park history -- 39,485 fans -- got to see Marquis, who went 2 for 4 at the plate, get as many hits as the Pirates lineup. He did not allow a hit through the first six innings. The only Pirates player to reach base over that time was Pedro Alvarez, who walked in the second.
The defeat assured the Pirates of a series loss and made their record 63-50. They are 41/2 games back of the National League Central Division-leading Cincinnati Reds, who earlier Saturday defeated the Chicago Cubs, 4-2. The Pirates have lost three games in a row, while the Padres have won six consecutive games.
Marquis pitched a complete-game shutout, the eighth complete game of his career. He allowed two hits and one walk and struck out four, using 106 pitches -- 65 strikes -- to do so.
"He gets ahead and he executes his pitches," said Travis Snider, who broke up the no-hit bid with a leadoff single in the seventh. "Stays down in the zone and gets guys to expand. You saw a lot of weak ground balls, some good at-bats from guys, but he does a good job of really nibbling at the corner and staying down and minimizing mistakes."
Snider hit a grounder back toward the mound to lead off the seventh. Everth Cabrera could not handle the ball, and the play was ruled a hit.
"I knew it hit the mound, but that's when I put my head down and started running," Snider said. "Fortunately, I was able to get to the base before the ball."
Marquis began the season with Minnesota, but the Twins released him in May. He signed a minor league contract with the Padres at the end of May and joined the major league roster in early June. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle had Marquis on the Colorado Rockies for the first part of the 2009 season, when the veteran right-hander made the All-Star team, and saw first-hand what he was capable of.
"He was arguably the best starter on the staff for two months," Hurdle said. "It can be challenging because you keep wanting to hit but you don't hit anything hard."
Burnett's outing, in which he allowed five runs, four earned, in 52/3 innings, represented a sharp departure from his recent work. He had pitched 172/3 innings in his previous two starts and had not allowed more than two runs in a start since July 15.
"I missed some spots with my sinker, and it hurt me," Burnett said. "I had a good hook tonight, that was probably all I had."
Burnett (14-4) struck out 10, many with that curveball, and walked only two, but the walks came on consecutive batters. One loaded the bases, the other pushed home a run.
Burnett left a first-pitch fastball up to Chase Headley in the first, and Headley hit his 18th home run and third in the past two games.
Cabrera tripled to the gap in left-center field to lead off the third and scored on Headley's ground ball to give the Padres a 2-0 lead.
Will Venable reached second after Garrett Jones' error on a ground ball in the fourth. Cameron Maybin singled to left, scoring Venable.
Burnett's 10 strikeouts came in the first five innings and, in three of them, he struck out the side.
"When he was on, he was on," Hurdle said. "And there was just some sequences that were really sharp and efficient, especially for the breaking ball."
Venable extended the Padres' lead in the sixth with his seventh home run this season.
Marquis kept the inning alive with a two-out single, his second hit of the game. Alexi Amarista singled, and the runners moved to second and third on a wild pitch. Cabrera walked to load the bases for Headley, and Burnett walked Headley to score a run. At that point, Hurdle removed Burnett in favor of Jared Hughes.
Hughes got Carlos Quentin to fly out and end the inning.
Snider left the game after the seventh due to right hamstring tightness.
"I wanted to be overly cautious," he said.
"Nothing I was overly concerned about."
First Published August 12, 2012 12:00 am