Reds get an unofficial no-hitter — and an unlikely loss to the Pirates

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The woeful Reds found a remarkable way to lose Sunday. Cincinnati did not allow so much as a single hit against the Pittsburgh Pirates but still managed to come away with a 1-0 defeat.

The Pirates scratched out a run in the bottom of the eighth inning on three walks and a possible double play ball with one out that instead was bobbled by Reds second baseman Alejo Lopez, allowing the game’s only run to cross the plate.

Because Cincinnati was the visiting team, Pittsburgh did not have to bat in the bottom of the ninth, meaning the Reds’ effort will not go down as a no-hitter. The Pirates became the sixth major league team since 1900, and the first since 2008, to notch zero hits in a victory.

“We’ll take the win,” said Pirates Manager Derek Shelton, who was ejected in the seventh inning for arguing balls and strikes. “Sometimes they don’t look the same, but they all count the same. … Today we won one in a weird way, and if it’s part of history, that’s fine, because it’s still a win.”

Cincinnati starter Hunter Greene went 7⅓ innings and threw an MLB season-high 118 pitches before being lifted for reliever Art Warren after walking two batters. Warren then walked another batter but almost escaped the situation by inducing a grounder to Lopez. The second baseman threw to shortstop Matt Reynolds for one out, but Reynolds’s relay to first base arrived too late to nab Pittsburgh’s Ke’Bryan Hayes as teammate Rodolfo Castro scored.

A prized rookie in just his seventh major league start, the 22-year-old Greene said afterward that he was not too disappointed about missing out on a chance to be part of a no-hitter.

“It’s hard on the mental side not to let your mind drift to that accolade,” Greene, the second pick in the 2017 draft, told reporters, “but it is what it is, and I think you’ve got to embrace all the thoughts and emotions in that moment, and just go out there and have fun.”

Greene added that he was “really pleased” with his slider, of which he threw 65, and cited an effective change-up in a start that lowered his ERA from 7.62 to 6.21. “There’s a lot of positives to come out of this,” he said.

Reds Manager David Bell credited Greene, who notched nine strikeouts and five walks, for consistently getting out of jams.

“He pitched his way into having an opportunity to go nine innings, get a win and the no-hitter,” Bell said. “In my book, that’s what it was today, and I believe the team feels that way, too. … I know he’s very happy about this day.”

The loss dropped Cincinnati’s already MLB-worst record to 9-26. The team, which shed salary in the offseason — to the point where deferred payments for the long-retired Ken Griffey Jr. make him one of the Reds’ highest-paid players this season — was a lowly 3-22 after 25 games. That made for the worst start in a franchise history that dates from 1882.

In that context, the Reds could take some solace in a painful loss that nevertheless came after a run of six wins in nine games and showcased Green’s emerging talent.

“He had no-hit stuff, and it translated,” Shelton, who also highlighted the effectiveness of Greene’s slider, said of the rookie starter.

The previous game in which a team did not allow a hit and still lost occurred in a 2008 contest between the Los Angeles Angels and Los Angeles Dodgers. Angels starter Jered Weaver no-hit the Dodgers through six innings and reliever Jose Arredondo did the same in the seventh and eighth, but Weaver’s error on a slow-rolling groundball allowed the only run to score. As with the Pirates on Sunday, the host Dodgers that day did not have to bat in the ninth, rendering the Angels’ no-hitter unofficial.

This season has seen two official no-hitters thus far, including one hurled last week by Angels rookie Reid Detmers against the Tampa Bay Rays. Earlier in the season, New York Mets starter Tylor Megill and four relievers combined for just the second no-no in that franchise’s history.

The Rays no-hit the Boston Red Sox last month through nine innings but lost their bid for an official no-hitter, which must comprise a complete game, in the top of the 10th before coming away with a wild 3-2 win. Last season, the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Madison Bumgarner was credited with an unofficial no-hitter after shutting down the Atlanta Braves through the only seven innings he was able to pitch, given that was how long doubleheader games lasted in 2020 and 2021.

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