CINCINNATI — Homer Bailey threw his second no-hitter in 10 months and the first in the majors this season, pitching the Cincinnati Reds to a 3-0 victory over the slumping San Francisco Giants on Tuesday night.
Bailey (5-6) became the third Reds pitcher with more than one no-hitter, joining Jim Maloney and Johnny Vander Meer — still the only big leaguer to toss two in a row. Bailey beat the Pirates 1-0 in Pittsburgh last Sept. 28 and got another 17 starts later.
“Every dog has its day twice, I guess,” Bailey said. “It felt good to do it front of the Cincinnati fans.”
The last pitcher to throw one no-hitter and then another before anyone else in the majors accomplished the feat was Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan, according to STATS. Baseball’s career strikeout king did it for the California Angels on Sept. 28, 1974, against Minnesota, and June 1, 1975, vs. Baltimore.
Bailey grew up in Texas, just like Ryan, and wears No. 34 in tribute to his boyhood idol.
Justin Verlander, Mark Buehrle and Roy Halladay are the only other active pitchers with a pair of no-hitters. Halladay, of course, threw one of his in the postseason.
Bailey walked Gregor Blanco leading off the seventh, the only Giants batter to reach base. First baseman Joey Votto alertly threw out Blanco as he tried to advance from second to third on a soft one-hopper that otherwise could have become an infield single for Buster Posey.
“Joey had a great heads-up play. I was almost a little late getting to the bag,” Bailey said.
With 27,509 fans on their feet chanting “Homer! Homer!” Bailey finished it off in the ninth. He jumped to glove Brandon Crawford’s high comebacker, struck out Tony Abreu and retired Blanco on a grounder to third baseman Todd Frazier.
“Going into the eighth and ninth I just said, ‘Why the hell not?’ Here we go again,” Bailey said.
When Votto caught the throw for the final out, Bailey raised both arms in triumph, reminiscent of that grand moment in Pittsburgh last September, then hugged catcher Ryan Hanigan.
Teammates poured onto the field to celebrate and doused Bailey with a red sports drink.
It was the 16th no-hitter in Cincinnati history. No Reds pitcher had thrown a no-no at home since Tom Browning’s 1-0 perfect game against the Dodgers at Riverfront Stadium on Sept. 16, 1988.
Bailey became the third pitcher in the history of baseball’s first professional franchise to get more than one.
Vander Meer threw the only back-to-back no-hitters in major league history in 1938, beating Boston and Brooklyn. Maloney had a no-hitter at Wrigley Field in 1965 and one at home against Houston in 1969.
The Giants were no-hit for the 16th time. The last three pitchers to hold them hitless were all named Kevin — LA’s Gross in 1992, Florida’s Brown in 1997 and Philadelphia’s Millwood in 2003.
Bailey was facing a lineup in a deep funk — two runs or less in nine of San Francisco’s last 12 games. He didn’t need much help to keep the no-hitter going — the Giants went rather quietly.
Last year was the season of the no-hitter, with seven in all, which tied the modern record. By this point, five had been thrown. So far in 2013, there had been only two close calls.
Texas’ Yu Darvish was working on a perfect game when he gave up a two-out single in the ninth to Houston’s Marwin Gonzalez during a 7-0 win on April 2. Detroit’s Anibal Sanchez gave up a one-out single in the ninth to Minnesota’s Joe Mauer in a 6-0 win on May 24.
Bailey became the first to take one all the way this year.
Votto had a sacrifice fly off Tim Lincecum (4-9), and Brandon Phillips hit a two-run homer for all the help Bailey would need.
Lincecum had some of his best moments last season in Cincinnati. Relegated to the bullpen after losing 15 games during the regular season, he went 4 1-3 innings in relief to help the Giants win Game 4 and, eventually, their division series, the first step toward a World Series title.
But there was no stopping Bailey this time.
Shin-Soo Choo hit Lincecum’s fifth pitch deep to right. Hunter Pence jumped above the wall and had the ball deflect off the heel of his glove back into play. The umpires initially ruled it a home run, but overturned the call after a review and gave Choo a double. He eventually scored on Votto’s sac fly.
Phillips hit a drive into the first row in left field in the sixth inning, his 12th homer for a 3-0 lead.
The field was in good condition a day after prolonged, heavy rain flooded the tunnel to the umpires’ room and turned the dugout steps into cascading fountains. The tunnel to the umpires’ room was still wet in places, but the 1-foot-deep standing water was gone.
Water problems are nothing new for Fieldin Culbreth’s umpiring crew. It’s the same one that was in Oakland when a sewage backup created an awful smell and pools of water in the clubhouses and umpires’ room.
Notes — Bailey became the 31st pitcher to throw at least two no-hitters. Ryan holds the record with seven. ... The Giants moved LHP Mike Kickham into the bullpen, a day after he took his third straight loss. The rookie lasted only 2 2-3 innings in an 8-1 loss to the Reds. San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy was noncommittal about how he’d reconfigure his staff again when RHP Chad Gaudin comes off the DL from a bruised elbow. He’s eligible to return on Saturday.