By JOHN PERROTTO
PITTSBURGH — The San Diego Padres have gone 45 seasons without a no-hitter. Andrew Cashner nearly put a perfect end to their drought.
The right-hander carried a perfect game into the seventh inning and faced the minimum 27 batters in a one-hitter that sent San Diego past the Pittsburgh Pirates 2-0 on Monday night.
Cashner (10-8) retired his first 18 batters before Jose Tabata grounded a clean single into right field leading off the seventh. Tabata was erased when Andrew McCutchen grounded into an inning-ending double play, and Cashner cruised the rest of the way for his first complete game in 31 career starts.
“I’ve had some no-hitters broken up before and I think in previous times I’ve learned to stay with my game plan and keep making pitches,” Cashner said. “That was a big spot in the game with McCutchen up. I kept telling myself to keep throwing my sinker where I wanted to, even though I gave up the hit on it.”
The Padres, who began play in 1969, remain the only major league franchise without a no-hitter.
The Pirates lost for the second time in eight games but remained tied for the NL Central lead with the St. Louis Cardinals, who were beaten 6-2 at Colorado.
“Cashner was throwing three quality pitches for strikes and, most importantly, he was keeping them all down in the strike zone,” Pittsburgh second baseman Neil Walker said. “Sometimes, you have games like this where the other guy just pitches a great game.”
Cashner, who has not allowed more than three earned runs in any of his last 11 starts, did not second-guess himself about throwing a sinker to Tabata.
“I didn’t want to get beat with my slider there,” Cashner said. “I still think it’s a great pitch. I still think it’s the right pitch. That’s the way it goes.”
Cashner struck out seven, did not walk a batter and threw 97 pitches. He also scored from second on a single, sliding home with the second run of the game, moments before giving up Tabata’s hit.
Though Cashner said he had never scored from second base or slid into home plate as a professional, he did not blame that for losing the no-hitter.
“Scoring that run helped keep me in the game,” he said.
Kyle Blanks, Ronny Cedeno and Rene Rivera each had two hits as the Padres won for the ninth time in 13 games. They are 17-3 in their last 20 at PNC Park.
A.J. Burnett (8-11) took a shutout into the seventh but wound up with the loss. He allowed two runs and six hits in 6 2-3 innings, with three walks and eight strikeouts.
“A.J. pitched a heck of a ballgame himself,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.
San Diego broke through for two runs against Burnett in the seventh. Cedeno and Rivera opened the inning with singles, and Cashner bunted into a fielder’s choice that left runners at the corners.
Will Venable hit a sacrifice fly, and Cashner scored on Jedd Gyorko’s single to left.
The Padres left runners in scoring position in the fourth, fifth, sixth and eighth — but it didn’t matter the way Cashner pitched.
“Once you get into the fifth inning, I always think about the possibility of a no-hitter,” Padres manager Bud Black said. “The way Cash was throwing, where his pitch count was, the look in his eye — the whole everything was set up for a good game.”
PHOENIX — Paul Goldschmidt hit a two-run home run in the first inning and Trevor Cahill and three relievers made it stand up in Arizona’s 2-1 win over Los Angeles on Monday night.
Goldschmidt raised his NL-leading RBI total to 116 with his 33rd home run off Dodgers starter Hyun-Jin Ryu (13-7). Goldschmidt has homered in each of his last two games after an 83 at-bat drought.
With Los Angeles’ fourth loss in a row and the Diamondbacks third straight win, the Dodgers’ magic number to clinch the NL West remains four.
Ryu (13-7) went the distance for his second complete game, allowing only the two runs on two hits in eight innings. He walked one, struck out four and retired 23 of the final 24 batters he faced.
Cahill (7-10) won for the fourth straight decision, holding Los Angeles to one run on two hits over 5 2-3 innings.
PHILADELPHIA — Cliff Lee had three hits, knocked in a career-high four runs and struck out a season-high 14 to lead the Phillies to a win over the Marlins.
Lee (14-6) stroked a two-run, bases-loaded single to cap off a six-run third inning and also hit his first career triple in the fifth. Chase Utley, who also drove in four runs, hit a long three-run homer in the third.
On the mound, Lee allowed two runs while scattering eight hits and walking none, at one point retiring 11 straight en route to winning his fourth consecutive decision. He is 4-0 with a 2.05 ERA in his last six starts and 5-1 with a 2.29 lifetime ERA against Miami.
Philadelphia has won six in a row over Miami.
In his first major-league start, Sam Dyson (0-1) allowed seven runs.
DENVER — Todd Helton started his final homestand with a key single in the eighth inning and the Rockies beat the Cardinals.
Charlie Blackmon had three hits and drove in three runs for the Rockies, who prevented the Cardinals from taking over sole possession of first place in the NL Central. They remained tied with the Pittsburgh Pirates, who lost 2-0 to San Diego.
Matt Carpenter and Matt Adams had two hits each for the Cardinals.
Helton was playing in front of Colorado fans for the first time since he announced his plans to retire at the end of the season, his 17th. He received a standing ovation when he came to the plate in the first, and Cardinals starter Lance Lynn stood behind the mound and waited as the crowd saluted Helton.
MILWAUKEE — Caleb Gindl had three hits, including a two-run home run, and Wily Peralta pitched six strong innings to lead the Brewers to a win over the Cubs.
The Brewers’ fourth win in five games moved them 3½ games above Chicago at the bottom of the NL Central.
Peralta (10-15) gave up an unearned run on five hits. He struck out seven while walking two.
Edwin Jackson (8-16) lasted only four innings for the Cubs, giving up two runs on two hits and three walks. Jackson has the most losses of any pitcher in the NL. Peralta is second with 15.
HOUSTON — The Houston Astros moved within one defeat of their third straight 100-loss season after the Cincinnati Reds beat them 6-1.
Instead of focusing on the looming mark, the Astros chose to think about how they can get better in the last few games of the season.
“I feel like we’ve been playing better,” first baseman Chris Carter said. “It’s just looking at the season as how we finish it instead of how we started it as a whole. Just looking to finish strong and keep playing good games. Hopefully that rolls into next year and we have a good season after that.”
The Astros were 56-106 in 2011 and dropped to 55-107 last year, their final season in the National League.
Johnny Cueto threw five scoreless innings in his return from the disabled list and Zack Cozart homered and drove in four runs to help the Reds to the win.
Pitching for the first time since straining the muscle below his right shoulder on June 28, Cueto (5-2) allowed five hits and struck out five with one walk for the win.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Wil Myers homered and had three RBIs, Alex Cobb pitched eight solid innings and the Tampa Bay Rays took the lead for the first AL wild-card spot by beating the skidding Texas Rangers 6-2 on Monday night.
Tampa Bay and Texas started play a half-game ahead of Cleveland in the race for two wild-card berths.
Myers had a second-inning solo shot and hit a two-run double during a four-run fifth. Cobb (9-3) allowed two runs and six hits while striking out 10.
Matt Garza (9-6, 3-5 with Texas) gave up six runs and eight hits over 4 1-3 innings against his former team. He lost his third straight start for the Rangers, who have dropped seven in a row and are 2-12 in September.
The announced crowd was just 10,724. The Rays entered with the lowest home attendance in the majors, an average of 18,747.
DETROIT — Rick Porcello struck out 10 in six innings and Detroit beat Seattle to move a step closer to its third straight AL Central title.
Victor Martinez broke a 1-all tie in the sixth with a run-scoring single, and Omar Infante followed with his own RBI single.
Porcello (13-8) allowed a run and five hits with two walks, falling one strikeout short of his career high. Drew Smyly got five outs in relief and Jose Veras finished the eighth.
Joaquin Benoit pitched a hitless ninth for his 21st save in 21 chances.
Joe Saunders (11-15) pitched well until the sixth, when he got two outs before a walk and three hits chased him from the game. Abraham Almonte homered for Seattle, which has lost seven of eight.