Rea of hope: Righty aims for Padres' history

Green praises young pitcher after one-run effort

Rea of hope: Righty aims for Padres' history

SAN DIEGO -- Colin Rea couldn't quite finish off his bid at Padres no-hit history Thursday night. But, if anything, Rea's outing in a 5-3 victory over the Mets reinforced the notion that the future is very bright for the 25-year-old right-hander.

Rea turned in the best start of his young career, holding the Mets to one run on three hits over a personal-best eight-plus innings. He didn't allow a hit until Yoenis Cespedes bounced a shift-beating grounder to the right side with two outs in the seventh.

"I don't know how you can get much better, considering what he did," said Padres catcher Derek Norris. "Flirting with a no-hitter through seven innings, that speaks volumes, especially to a team that's been as hot offensively as [the Mets] have been."

The Padres have preached efficiency with Rea, who has, at times, gotten himself in trouble with walks. In three of his five starts this season, Rea needed at least 90 pitches to get through five innings or fewer.

That wasn't the case at all on Thursday. Rea attacked Mets hitters all night, and he finished the day with five strikeouts and one walk -- a first-inning free pass to David Wright.

"Being more aggressive in the zone, using more of the plate early and not being so tentative early in the count -- we were able to expand after that," Rea said.

The ceiling is high for Rea, who has only made 12 career big league starts. And according to Padres skipper Andy Green, there's still plenty of room for improvement.

"He's got to keep working," said Green. "He's nowhere near a finished product, despite the fact that he had such a great game."

Green was cognizant of the no-hitter and the fact that the Padres remain the only team in the Majors without one. He noted afterward, "I'm willing to ride him as long as it took if he gave us the opportunity."

As it happened, Green stuck with Rea into the top of the ninth, anyway, until the right-hander allowed a leadoff home run to Curtis Granderson.

Rea left to a rousing ovation from the Petco Park faithful.

"Eight innings, one run is a tremendous game," Green said. "He's got a lot to be proud of tonight and a lot to build on for his next start. Obviously we were going to let him run out there. Probably until damage was done, we were going to let him carry on. Once the run came in, I wasn't pushing any further."

Green on 5-3 win over Mets

As for Rea's thoughts on his chance at history -- he was fully aware of where he stood throughout the night. That's what happens when nobody says a word to you in the dugout between innings.

"It was definitely in my head," Rea said with a wry smile. "I knew. You know the situation that's going on. It was fun out there."

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.