PITTSBURGH — In what quickly became a losing season for the Cincinnati Reds, it was truly the ultimate misery.
Prized rookie Hunter Greene and reliever Art Warren combined to allow zero hits in a full game, but that didn’t count as a no-hit — or even a win.
Instead, the Pittsburgh Pirates hit a run late in the eighth inning on three walks and a groundout for a 1-0 win on Sunday.
“It would have been great to have a different outcome, but that’s what it is,” Greene said.
Ke’Bryan Hayes’ RBI runner helped the Pirates become the sixth team in big league history since 1901 to win despite going without hits. This last happened in 2008 when the Angels’ Jered Weaver and Jose Arredondo lost while holding the Dodgers without a hit.
Under Major League Baseball’s record-keeping rules, Cincinnati’s fulfillment isn’t an official non-cutter because its pitchers haven’t gone at least nine innings.
“Sometimes you win games in a weird way and today we won one in a weird way. And if it’s history, it’s good because it’s still a win,” said Pirates manager Derek Shelton.
And in a year where almost everything went wrong for the Reds, surely that was to be the best as they fell to 9-26, the worst record at the majors.
Greene (1-6) was retired after walks in the eighth against Rodolfo Castro and Michael Perez. The 22-year-old right-hander threw 118 pitches, the most of any pitcher in the majors this year.
“He had some unsuccessful stuff and it translated,” Shelton said.
Greene fired up seven heaters at 100 mph or faster, and mixed sharp sliders and efficient shifts.
He was also fully aware of the possibility of a no-hitter.
“To be honest, like in the third or fourth. But that’s the last thing I wanted to think about (because) it’s really hard to stay locked up and not think about those things,” Greene said.
“I had the scoreboard in my face and I was trying not to look him in the eye,” he said. “Everyone was giving me my space and knowing I was locked up.”
Towards the end, he admitted, he ran out of gas.
“But again, there’s the mental part of, you know, ‘I’m fine. I’m not tired,'” he said.
Reds manager David Bell said: “Looking at it now I think it should have been very easy for him to come back there for the ninth, but I think there was a chance he could have done.”
Warren relieved and walked Ben Gamel to load the bases. Hayes followed with a grounder to second baseman Alejo Lopez, who popped the ball before throwing to shortstop Matt Reynolds for a forced out. Reynolds’ throw for a potential late-inning double play was a fraction behind to get the quick Hayes to first base.
“Maybe in a perfect world that ball hits a little harder to make it easier for him,” Warren said. “I tried to do my best and get a ground ball there. It’s just one of those things where it didn’t work our way.
The Cincinnati hitters then fell in order in the ninth and that was it at PNC Park – no celebration for the Reds despite the zero in Pittsburgh’s hit column.
“I mean not even getting a hit in a game and winning, I’m sure that hasn’t happened a lot since baseball has been around,” Hayes said.
There have been two no-hits in the majors this season. Angels rookie Reid Detmers threw one last Tuesday against Tampa Bay, and five Mets pitchers combined to hold Philadelphia without a hitter last week.
Also, the Tampa Bay pitchers combined to hold Boston no-hitter in the 10th inning last month and ended up winning 3-2. It was also not an official hit, as the Rays did not pitch a full game without giving up a hit.
The second pick in the 2017 entry draft, Greene suffered an injury in 2018 that required surgery from Tommy John in 2019. After the COVID-19 pandemic, he didn’t return to the minor leagues until 2021. He made the Reds’ roster for the first time coming out of spring training this year.
In his second start of the season, he set an MLB record with 39 pitches over 100 mph, but had a 7.62 ERA in Sunday’s game, thanks in part to a majors-leading 11 homers. this season. He also walked 15 in 26 innings.
“I’m not focusing on wins or losses this year. That’s not my goal,” he said. “You have to embrace all the thoughts and emotions of this moment and just go out and have fun. I hope I will have a lot more opportunities for that.”
Pirates starter José Quintana held the Reds scoreless for seven innings, allowing three hits while striking out five.
“Greene threw very well. It’s hard, hard for him. But we kept pushing,” said Quintana. “I’ve never seen this before, but it’s great to get the win.”
Chris Stratton (2-1) pitched around a two-for-one draw in the eighth. David Bednar worked a clear ninth for his seventh save.
Reds: C Tyler Stephenson was cleared to play after leaving Saturday’s game under concussion protocols after removing a foul from his mask, but did not start. Cincinnati added C Sandy León to the taxi crew as a precaution. … 1B Joey Votto (COVID-19 IL) made his second appearance in rehab with Triple-A Louisville and went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts. … LHP Mike Minor (shoulder) made his second appearance in rehab with Louisville since restarting his rehab after a setback in April. He pitched 2 1/3 innings and allowed a run while striking out four.
Pirates: SS Kevin Newman (left groin strain) will begin a rehab assignment this week, general manager Ben Cherington said. Newman has been out since April 27.
Reds: RHP Connor Overton (1-0, 1.59) will start against Cleveland on Tuesday after a day off.
The Pirates have not announced a starter for Monday’s series opener against the Cubs in Chicago.