LOS ANGELES (AP) — The career-high 128 pitches Josh Beckett threw in his no-hitter didn’t hurt him Friday night against the Pirates – at least not as much as Ike Davis’ tape-measure home run.
Beckett threw a 2-1 fastball that Davis sent an estimated 453 feet to center field in the fourth inning after Neil Walker’s RBI single in the first. That was the extent of Pittsburgh’s offense, but Francisco Liriano was even stingier and beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 2-1 for his long-awaited first victory of the season.
“If I don’t make that pitch to Ike Davis it’s a 1-1 game,” Beckett said. “That’s really what it boils down to – making pitches when you have to. Even though nobody was on base, I had to make a better pitch than that.”
Beckett (3-2) allowed two runs and five hits in five innings, five days after beating the Phillies 6-0 in Philadelphia with the first no-hitter in the majors this season and the first by a Dodger since Hideo Nomo’s gem in 1996. The 34-year-old right-hander was removed for a pinch-hitter after 88 pitches.
“We wanted to keep his pitch count down tonight,” manager Don Mattingly said. “We didn’t really cap it anywhere special; we just knew we were going to watch him pretty close tonight. He threw the ball OK and said he felt physically fine, but he didn’t seem to be quite as sharp as he’s been.”
Beckett retired the side in order only once. He hit Starling Marte with a 2-2 pitch to open the third and Clint Barmes followed with a walk. Marte was picked off second by catcher Drew Butera on a busted sacrifice. But the Pirates overcame that miscue with singles by Josh Harrison and Walker, whose hit to right field drove in Barmes with the game’s first run.
Yasiel Puig reached base for the 31st straight game, getting an infield single in the fourth and continuing to second on Liriano’s throwing error. He came up with the bases loaded in the fifth and popped up for the third out, making him 0 for 5 in those situations.
Liriano (1-5) scattered five hits over 5 2-3 scoreless innings. The left-hander, a 16-game winner for Pittsburgh last season, struck out eight and walked two in his 12th start of the year. He entered with a 5.06 ERA.
“To get Puig, that’s just a classic matchup on a Friday night in front of 47,000 – that’s good stuff,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “There were so many important pitches in that sequence, but he stayed focused and was aggressive. Francisco pitched out of the stretch most of the night, and the leadoff hitter reached base in five of those six innings. He had eight strikeouts, and a lot of them were with guys on second.”
Butera, who caught Beckett’s no-hitter, also was behind the plate for Liriano’s no-no with Minnesota on May 3, 2011, against the White Sox in Chicago. He threw out Russell Martin and Harrison on stolen base attempts for the third out in the second and fifth innings, respectively.
“Butera just made two beautiful throws,” Hurdle said. “We’ve been trying to run and we’ve had some challenges. We’ve got to revisit our leads, but we’re not going to sit pat. We had some sequences where we thought we could run. Sometimes you get them, sometimes you don’t. But we need to stay aggressive and try to get guys in scoring position.”
Walker, the Pirates’ second baseman, robbed Matt Kemp of an RBI single in the sixth with a diving stop toward the middle and threw him out after Hanley Ramirez led off with a double. Liriano faced one more batter, striking out Scott Van Slyke with his 100th pitch, and Justin Wilson fanned Andre Ethier.
“In a game like that, it’s usually going to be a key hit or something that can either put you over the top or keep you from getting there,” Mattingly said. “We had a lot of opportunities to get guys on. We had guys on early. We just didn’t seem to be able to capitalize.”
Mark Melancon gave up an RBI single to Ramirez in the eighth, but retired pinch-hitter Adrian Gonzalez on a grounder with the potential tying run at second.
Jason Grilli pitched a perfect ninth for his sixth save.
NOTES: Cincinnati LHP Johnny Vander Meer (1938) remains the only pitcher to throw no-hitters in consecutive starts. … It was the 19th time since 1900 that a pitcher made his first start following a no-hitter against an opponent who also had pitched one. The last time that happened was May 7, 2012, when Jered Weaver of the Angels faced Liriano and beat Minnesota for the second time in five days, 8-3. … Dee Gordon stole two more bases to raise his major league-leading total to 34, and the Dodgers’ total to 64 – also tops in the majors. … Davis’ homer was his fourth this season, including two grand slams against Cincinnati. … The Pirates have won all six of Liriano’s no-decisions.