CHICAGO – A.J. Burnett pitched a one-hitter, Neil Walker drove in five runs and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat Chicago 5-0 on Tuesday night, hours after the Cubs traded ace Ryan Dempster.
Burnett just about stole the spotlight after the Cubs traded their best pitcher to Texas just before the non-waiver deadline. His bid for a second career no-hitter and the sixth in the majors this season ended with two outs in the eighth.
He had already hit Darwin Barney in the helmet with one out before striking out Luis Valbuena, but his no-hit bid ended at the hands of a rookie when pinch-hitter Adrian Cardenas lined a 3-2 pitch to right for a single after two close pitches were called balls.
Burnett appeared to be yelling at the umpire afterward, but he struck out David DeJesus with runners on first and third to end the inning. That's probably not much consolation for the veteran, who pitched a no-hitter for the Marlins against San Diego on May 12, 2001.
That a Miami-area native who was 13-years-old back then broke it up was a bit of an ironic twist. Not since Sandy Koufax did it to them in September 1965 have the Cubs been no-hit, and the last no-hitter at Wrigley Field came when Milt Pappas pitched one for Chicago against San Diego in September 1972.
Burnett sure made it interesting, though. He struck out eight and walked two, just missing the eighth no-hitter in franchise history.
He retired the first 11 batters before walking Anthony Rizzo, and as the game wore on, the sense that something special was happening filled the old ballpark.
There was a loud gasp when Alfonso Soriano sent a drive to deep left-center in the seventh that Andrew McCutchen caught, and first baseman Garrett Jones then made a sliding stop on Bryan LaHair's grounder to end the inning.
Casey Coleman, meanwhile, had a rough night after being recalled from the minors. Pitching in Dempster's place, he lasted just 4 2-3 innings, allowing four runs and seven hits.
He gave up infield singles to newcomer Travis Snider and McCutchen with one out in the first before walking Jones to load the bases. Walker then drove a 2-1 pitch out to right center for his second career grand slam.
The other one? That was also at Wrigley Field, against Dempster on April 1, 2011.
The Pirates had a chance to add to it in the third but ran their way out of a potential big inning before leaving the bases loaded. McCutchen led off with a single and advanced to third on Jones' hit before being thrown out at the plate trying to score on Walker's grounder toward first.
Pedro Alvarez drove a shot to deep center off David DeJesus' glove, but Walker got caught in a rundown between second and third because Jones was held up. Rod Barajas walked to load the bases before Clint Barnes grounded into a force to end the inning.
Burnett's performance overshadowed the big news before the game, with Dempster going to the Rangers for two prospects.
The Pirates were a busy bunch, too. They acquired former All-Star first baseman Gaby Sanchez from Florida and sent third baseman Casey McGehee to the Yankees for reliever Chad Qualls.
Notes: Along with Coleman, the Cubs also recalled Cardenas and C Welington Castillo from Triple-A Iowa before the game. ... GM Jed Hoyer said it might not be long before Josh Vitters is called up from Triple-A. He was batting .298 with 15 homers. ... In the Sanchez deal, Pittsburgh also got minor league pitcher Kyle Kaminska for minor league outfielder Gorkys Hernandez and the extra draft pick for 2013 that the Pirates won in the competitive balance lottery for financially weaker teams. ... The Pirates recalled RHP Daniel McCutchen from Triple-A Indianapolis to take Brad Lincoln's spot in the bullpen. Lincoln was dealt to Toronto for Travis Snider on Monday.