PITTSBURGH - In what has quickly become a lost season for the Cincinnati Reds, this really was the ultimate misery.
Prized rookie Hunter Greene and reliever Art Warren combined to allow zero hits in a complete game, but it didn't count as a no-hitter by Major League Baseball standards - or even a win, by anyone's standards.
Instead, the Pittsburgh Pirates eked out a run in the bottom of the eighth inning on three walks and a groundout for a 1-0 victory Sunday afternoon.
"It would have been great to have a different result, but it is what it is," said Greene, who started the 2021 season in Class AA with the Chattanooga Lookouts.
Ke'Bryan Hayes' RBI grounder helped the Pirates become the sixth team in MLB history since 1901 to win despite not getting any hits. The oddity had most recently happened in 2008, when Jered Weaver and Jose Arredondo of the Los Angeles Angels lost while holding the Dodgers hitless.
By MLB's record-keeping rules, Cincinnati's accomplishment isn't an official no-hitter because its pitchers didn't go at least nine innings.
"Sometimes you win games in weird ways, and today we won one in a weird way. And if it's a part of history, that's fine because it's still a win," Pirates manager Derek Shelton said.
And in a year in which most everything has gone wrong for the Reds, this surely had to be the topper as they fell to 9-26, the worst record in the majors.
Greene (1-6) was pulled after one-out walks in the eighth to Rodolfo Castro and Michael Perez. The 22-year-old right-hander threw 118 pitches, the most by any pitcher in the majors this year.
"He had no-hit stuff, and it translated," Shelton said.
Greene fired seven heaters at 100 mph or faster and mixed in sharp sliders. He was totally aware of the situation as the game progressed.
"I had the scoreboard right in my face, and I was trying not to make eye contact with it," he said. "Everybody was giving me my space and knew that I was locked in."
Toward the end, he admitted, he was out of gas.
"But then again, there's the mental part of, you know, 'I'm fine. I'm not tired,'" he said.
Said Reds manager David Bell: "Looking at it now, I think it would have to have gone really easy for him to go back out there for the ninth, but I think there was a chance he could have done it."
Warren relieved and walked Ben Gamel to load the bases. Hayes followed with a grounder to second baseman Alejo Lopez, who bobbled the ball before throwing to shortstop Matt Reynolds for a forceout. Reynolds' relay for a potential inning-ending double play was a fraction late to get the speedy Hayes at first base.
"Maybe in a perfect world that ball's hit a little bit harder to make it a little bit easier for him," Warren said. "I tried to do the best I could and get a ground ball there. It's just one of those things where it didn't go our way."
Cincinnati batters then went down 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, to not even get a hit in a game and to get a win, I'm sure that hasn't happened a lot since baseball's been going on," Hayes said.
There have been two no-hitters in the majors this season. Angels rookie Reid Detmers pitched one Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Rays, and five New York Mets pitchers combined to hold the Philadelphia Phillies hitless on April 29.
Tampa Bay pitchers combined to hold the Boston Red Sox hitless into the 10th inning last month and wound up winning 3-2. That wasn't an official no-hitter, either, because the Rays didn't throw a complete game without giving up a hit.
Greene, the second overall pick in the 2017 amateur draft, had Tommy John surgery in 2019 after gettting injured in 2018. With the COVID-19 pandemic canceling the 2020 season for minor league baseball, he wasn't able to return until 2021, which he finished with Triple-A Louisville. 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 against the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 16, but going into Sunday's game he carried a 7.62 ERA partly due to giving up 11 home runs, the most in the majors so far this season. He has also allowed 15 walks in 26 innings.
"I'm not focused on wins or losses this year. That's not my focus," Greene said. "You've got to embrace all the thoughts and emotions in that moment and just go out there and have fun. Hopefully I'm going to have a lot more opportunities for that."
Pirates starter José Quintana held the Reds scoreless through seven innings, giving up three hits while striking out five batters. Chris Stratton (2-1) pitched around a two-on, one-out jam in the eighth, and David Bednar worked a clean ninth for his seventh save of the season.
"Greene threw really well. That's tough, tough for him. But we kept pushing," Quintana said. "I've never seen that before, but it's great to get the win."