Padres' Young Takes No-Hitter Into 9th

Saturday, September 23rd 2006, 12:43 pm
By: News On 6

Chris Young was closing in on the San Diego Padres' first no-hitter. The crowd was cheering every pitch, and his teammates were getting ready to celebrate. Then, one swing by a Pittsburgh pinch-hitter silenced Petco Park.

Needing only two more outs to make history, Young gave up a two-run homer to Joe Randa in the ninth inning of San Diego's 6-2 victory over the Pirates on Friday night.

The Padres are still without a no-no in 38 seasons of play, but they maintained their half-game lead over second-place Los Angeles in the NL West.

``There's too good of pitching in this organization. There always has been, and is going to continue to be, to have that streak last,'' said Young, a former basketball star at Princeton. ``It's just a matter of time. I don't think I'll be the one to do it.''

Derek Lowe kept the Dodgers in the wild-card lead with a gem of his own, while Ryan Howard and Barry Bonds each had a big night at the plate.

Lowe pitched seven strong innings in a 2-0 win over visiting Arizona that kept Los Angeles a half-game ahead of Philadelphia in the wild-card race.

Howard hit his major league-leading 58th home run for the Phillies, who beat Florida 5-2 at home.

Bonds connected for his 733rd homer, tying Hank Aaron's NL record, and drove in a season-high six runs. He did it in Milwaukee, where Aaron started and ended his career, but the slumping Giants were outslugged by the Brewers 13-12 at Miller Park.

``It would have been kind of cool in the old ballpark because it is where he actually played his games,'' Bonds said. ``Nevertheless, it is still in Milwaukee and it is still great.''

Bonds' 25th home run of the season, his first since Sept. 13, left him 22 homers behind Aaron's career mark of 755.

But it was Young's dominant performance that had everyone in San Diego on the edge of their seat _ even though the 6-foot-10 right-hander ultimately fell short of his first career complete game.

``They hit some hard balls right at guys,'' Young said. ``A lot of it is just luck. That being said, it was a lot of fun.''

In other NL games, it was: Houston 6, St. Louis 5; Washington 3, New York 2; Cincinnati 4, Chicago 2, 5 innings, rain; Colorado 6, Atlanta 4.

Young's bid came 2 1/2 weeks after Florida rookie Anibal Sanchez no-hit Arizona on Sept. 6, which ended a drought of more than two years without a no-hitter _ the longest stretch of games in major league history.

The Padres, who played their 6,020th game, remain one of four teams without a no-no. The others are the New York Mets, Colorado Rockies and Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Young (11-5) struck out six, walked three and tipped his cap after a hearty ovation from the crowd of 40,077 when he departed.

``That's the first time in my career that I've done it, and it gave me chills, really. It was a great feeling,'' he said.

Cla Meredith got the final out.

It was the 12th time a Padres pitcher took a no-hitter into the eighth inning, and the second time this year Young did it. His no-hit bid against Colorado on May 30 was spoiled by Brad Hawpe's leadoff double in the eighth.

``It's going to happen for him, the way he's throwing the ball,'' San Diego manager Bruce Bochy said.

This was the second-closest a Padres pitcher has come to a no-hitter. Steve Arlin came within one out on July 18, 1972, against Philadelphia.

``It was frustrating because you hate to get that close,'' said catcher Mike Piazza, who caught no-hitters by Ramon Martinez in 1995 and Hideo Nomo in 1996 while with the Dodgers. ``I'd rather lose it in the seventh or the eighth, but the ninth is tough. But a win's a win. You have to look at the big picture.''

Adrian Gonzalez hit a two-run homer and finished with three RBIs, and Todd Walker added a solo shot.

The win not only kept the Padres in the NL West lead, but it allowed San Diego (81-72) to pass St. Louis (80-72) for the second-best record in the NL.

Dodgers 2, Diamondbacks 0

At Los Angeles, Lowe (15-8) won his fifth straight decision and J.D. Drew broke a scoreless tie with a leadoff homer in the seventh against Claudio Vargas (11-10). Takashi Saito got four outs for his 21st save in 23 chances.

Phillies 5, Marlins 2

At Philadelphia, Cole Hamels (9-8) struck out 10 in 6 2-3 innings and Howard moved closer to becoming the sixth player to reach 60 homers when he lined a three-run shot off Ricky Nolasco (11-10).

Astros 6, Cardinals 5

At Houston, Craig Biggio's two-out RBI single off Braden Looper (9-3) capped a two-run rally in the ninth. It was the second consecutive game the Astros rallied to beat the Cardinals, whose magic number to win a third straight NL Central title remained at five.

Reds 4, Cubs 2, 5 innings, rain

At Cincinnati, Edwin Encarnacion hit a two-run homer, one of three off Rich Hill (6-7), and Norris Hopper hit his first career homer.

Nationals 3, Mets 2

At New York, Alfonso Soriano hit his 40th double to become baseball's first 40-40-40 player. He also has 45 homers and 41 stolen bases.

Austin Kearns homered for Washington and Pedro Astacio (5-5) turned in a rare strong road start. Rookie Ryan Zimmerman reached 100 RBIs.

Orlando Hernandez (10-11) pitched seven solid innings for the playoff-bound Mets, striking out eight and walking one.

Rockies 6, Braves 4

Todd Helton's two-run double sparked Colorado on a wet and chilly night at Coors Field. Josh Fogg (10-9) beat Tim Hudson (12-12).

Brewers 13, Giants 12

At Milwaukee, David Bell's infield single in the eighth drove in the go-ahead run for the Brewers. Both teams sent nine batters to the plate in the first inning, the first time that's happened in the major leagues since May 11, 2005, when Seattle and the New York Yankees accomplished the feat.