SAN DIEGO – After 7,858 games, the San Diego Padres are still waiting for their first no-hitter.
Jordan Lyles was the latest to give the long-suffering fans hope that it could finally happen. After he retired his 22nd consecutive batter by striking out Carlos Gonzalez of the Colorado Rockies to open the eighth inning Tuesday, the crowd of 19,598 at Petco Park got loud.
But then Trevor Story swatted an 0-1 pitch into left field for a single, leaving Lyles five outs shy of the first perfect game in Padres history. The Padres won 4-0 against the Rockies, Lyle’s old team.
The Padres are the only major league team without a no-hitter. While the right-hander’s effort was brilliant, it’s now on the list of close calls that goes back to July 21, 1970, when manager Preston Gomez lifted Clay Kirby after eight no-hit innings against the New York Mets.
Asked if there as a protocol for how players react in the dugout during a no-no bid, manager Andy Green said: “We don’t really know. We’ve never had one.
“I’d love to see it,” Green said. “Honestly, in those moments, I’m just like everyone else. We want to see something special. We did see something very special today, but we were looking for five more outs.”
Story’s single landed just in front of left fielder Franchy Cordero.
“After we struck out CarGo, that’s when it kind of got real for me,” said Lyles (1-1), who moved into the rotation last week. “The crowd started to get loud and then we made two good pitches to Trevor.”
Story hit a slider that was down and away. “I just saw a replay on TV. It was a good pitch, exactly where I would throw it again,” Lyles said. “But after he made contact, being a pitcher, you know places were balls land after contact and I felt like it was a good chance it was going to touch grass. But we made a good pitch. It was a clean hit, so it was all good.”
Lyles then walked Pat Valaika and made way for Kirby Yates after 85 pitches. Lyles matched his career high with 10 strikeouts. The Rockies hit only two balls out of the infield before Story singled.
This was the second-closest a Padres pitcher came to perfection. Chris Young lost a perfect game bid when he gave up a homer to Gabe Kapler with two outs in the eighth at Milwaukee on Sept. 7, 2008.
Tyson Ross lost a no-hit bid with two outs in the eighth at Arizona on April 20 when Cordero appeared to misjudge a ball by Christian Walker.
San Diego was no-hit by four Los Angeles Dodgers pitchers on May 4 in Monterrey, Mexico.
“It was a little cutter and I was just trying to get on base,” Story said. “He was just attacking and getting ahead early and putting us behind. He made good two-strike pitches and he had some good stuff.”
Attacking Lyles is “a little tricky sometimes because we know each other so well,” Story said. “He just got ahead of us early to every hitter and after that he was making pitches, too.”
The 27-year-old Lyles was making just his second start. His first came on May 10 after winless Bryan Mitchell was demoted to the bullpen. Lyles lost 2-1 to St. Louis that night, allowing two runs and five hits in five innings.
Green said Lyles had an excellent four-pitch mix with his fastball, curveball, slider and cutter, as well as “angle, aggression and attack. ... It’s a pretty good recipe. I definitely wasn’t thinking that way from the first batter of the game, but it became apparent relatively quickly that he was cruising through a pretty good lineup.”
Said Rockies manager Bud Black: “We couldn’t handle the breaking balls. Obviously, he pitched super aggressively. The pitch count was way down, the ball-strike ratio was really good. We just couldn’t get to him. Then finally Trevor got a little ball up and hit a line drive to left. There’s no doubt Lyles was on.
“The couple times that he’s faced us he’s had an aggressive, upbeat, momentum-building delivery and he showed it today. We know that he has weapons and today it truly was working for him.”
Brad Hand earned a four-out save, his 12th in 14 chances.
Lyles was backed by two-run homers by Eric Hosmer and Christian Villanueva.
San Diego jumped on German Marquez (2-5) for a 2-0 lead after just six pitches. Travis Jankowski hit a leadoff single and Hosmer followed with a two-run homer to right-center on the first pitch he saw from Marquez.
Villanueva homered off Chris Rusin with two outs in the sixth, his 10th. Franmil Reyes, who made his major league debut Monday night, singled ahead of Villanueva for his first big league hit and was replaced by pinch-runner Manuel Margot.
Marquez allowed two runs and six hits in five innings.
Rockies RHP Chad Bettis (4-1, 3.12 ERA) is scheduled to start the opener of a four-game series Thursday night at San Francisco.