Shift backfires on Padres in seventh inning

Rea loses no-hit bid when Cespedes hits to right side of infield

Shift backfires on Padres in seventh inning

SAN DIEGO -- For 6 2/3 innings during Thursday night's 5-3 victory over the Mets, the Padres' defense was right where it needed to be, positioned perfectly to turn would-be singles into easy groundouts behind a history-chasing Colin Rea.

Then, in the seventh, Yoenis Cespedes hit a slow bouncer to the right side -- routine for any second baseman playing in his usual position.

Jemile Weeks was not playing in his usual position.

With Weeks stationed on the wrong side of the second-base bag, that grounder trickled into the outfield for the Mets' first hit of the night against Rea, ending his bid to become the first pitcher in Padres history to record a no-hitter.

The shift giveth; the shift taketh away.

"It saved more hits tonight than it gave up," Rea said afterward.

Rea was brilliant Thursday, tossing a career-high eight innings and allowing just three hits. Ultimately, it was the shift that cost him a chance at etching his name in Padres lore. But the same strategy kept his no-no intact for most of the night.

Rea takes no-hitter into 7th

Weeks made a couple plays in short right field. Third baseman Brett Wallace and shortstop Alexei Ramirez each turned ground balls into outs from the opposite side of the second-base bag.

"It was exciting, carrying a no-hitter as long as he did," said Padres manager Andy Green. "Until Cespedes violated the shift, it felt like there were eight balls hit right into the teeth of it."

The shift against Cespedes wasn't exactly out-of-the-ordinary. In fact, the Padres had three infielders on one side of the diamond against more than half of the Mets lineup Thursday night.

It's a strategy Green has employed all season, and to a large degree, one that has worked very well.

"I loved watching Colin chase [the no-hitter] for as long as he got the opportunity to chase it tonight," said Green. "It would've been great to go a little bit longer. Somebody should've just told me not to shift on Cespedes."

In reality, however, the Padres were probably better off shifting against Cespedes, who has some extreme pull tendencies.

But this time, Cespedes inside-outed a two-seam fastball to the right side.

"That's obviously tough," said first baseman Wil Myers, the only infielder on that side of the diamond at the time. "Everybody out there knew what was going on. But that's the way the game goes sometimes. We leave a hole open and a good hitter exploits that."

Nearly as impressive as Rea's no-hit bid was the way he responded Cespedes' knock. He got Lucas Duda to ground out to first to end the inning before striking out two of three in the eighth.

"I knew all throughout the game," Rea said of his no-hit bid. "When it ended you just had to move on and get the next batter."

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