Pirates silenced in 5-0 loss to Padres
Right-hander Jason Marquis continued his mastery of the Pirates on Saturday — and nearly made history in the process — by pacing the San Diego Padres to an easy 5-0 victory.
In front of the third-largest crowd in PNC Park history — a SkyBlast/Styx concert sellout of 39,485 — Marquis held the Pirates hitless over the first six innings. He finished with a two-hitter, his eighth career complete game and fifth shutout.
Travis Snider opened the seventh by rolling an infield single off the mound and up the middle. Second baseman Alexi Amarista got his glove on the ball but had no play.
“I knew it hit the mound, but that’s when I put my head down and started running,” Snider said.
After the inning, Snider left the game because of right hamstring tightness. He felt it cramp up while he was advancing to second base on Garrett Jones’ grounder.
“It’s nothing I’m overly concerned about, but I want to be cautious,” Snider said. “Hopefully, I can be ready to go (Sunday).”
The Padres, who joined the National League in 1969, are the only major league team without a no-hitter. San Diego had a close call July 9, 2010, when five pitchers — including current Pirates reliever Chad Qualls — combined for eight hitless innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The last pitcher to no-hit the Pirates was Hall of Famer Bob Gibson, who blanked them Aug. 14, 1971, in an 11-0 rout by the St. Louis Cardinals at Three Rivers Stadium.
In 25 career starts against the Pirates, Marquis has 13 wins, his most against any opponent. He has won his past four outings at PNC Park, dating to 2008, and eight of 12 on the North Shore overall.
“He can be very efficient with that late life on his pitches,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “You’ve either got to get under that ball or stay inside of it.”
Hurdle managed Marquis briefly in 2009 with the Colorado Rockies. That year, Marquis matched his career high with 15 wins and was an All-Star.
“It can be challenging, because you keep wanting to hit him, but you don’t hit anything hard,” Hurdle said. “You’ve really got to commit to getting that ball up. Easier said than done, though. It’s the … late movement. We didn’t square up many balls at all.”
The Padres signed Marquis, 33, to a minor league contract May 29 after he was cut by the Minnesota Twins. Nine days later, San Diego called him up from Double-A.
Pedro Alvarez reached base twice against Marquis (6-6), walking in the second inning and singling in the eighth. But for the most part, the Pirates went down meekly on 17 groundball outs and four strikeouts.
The Pirates tumbled 4 1⁄2 games behind first-place Cincinnati in the NL Central. They lead St. Louis by 1 1⁄2 games for the second and final wild-card bid.
All season, right-hander A.J. Burnett (14-4) has been the Pirates’ stopper — seven of his wins have come immediately after losses — but even he was stymied. Burnett racked up 10 strikeouts but also served up solo homers to Chase Headley and Will Venable.
“I missed spots with my sinker, and it hurt me,” Burnett said. “I had a good hook tonight, but that’s probably all I had. I was missing over the middle, and they drove some balls.”
Headley swatted the first pitch he saw from Burnett over the wall in right-center field, giving the Padres a 1-0 lead in the first inning. It was Headley’s third straight homer — on a total of five pitches — over two games.
Headley is the ninth Padre to homer in three consecutive at-bats. No San Diego player has ever gone deep four at-bats in a row.
Over the first two games of this series, Headley has eight RBI.
In 15 career games at PNC Park, Headley is batting .339 with five homers and 18 RBI.
The Pirates inquired about Headley before the non-waiver trading deadline. But they deemed the Padres’ demands — a top-five prospect, another mid-level prospect and either the competitive balance draft pick (which was traded to Florida for Gaby Sanchez) or reliever Brad Lincoln (who was traded to Toronto for Snider) — to be too high.
Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 412-320-7811.