Padres tip caps to Matz after near no-hitter

Padres tip caps to Matz after near no-hitter

NEW YORK -- In one moment Sunday afternoon, the Padres were merely a foil to Steven Matz's bid at no-hit history. In the next, Alexei Ramirez had sprayed a single down the right-field line, and they appeared to be primed for an out-of-nowhere comeback, having chased Matz in the top of the eighth.

Ultimately, neither history for Matz nor a come-from-behind victory for the Padres was in the cards, as New York emerged unscathed from a tense eighth inning in a 5-1 victory.

"He was down when he wanted to be, he located well -- we didn't do much of anything against him," said Padres manager Andy Green. "Until Alexei hit that ball we didn't really square anything up at all. It was just one of those days where he was substantially better than us."

With one out in that fateful eighth, Ramirez capitalized on a fastball that Matz left over the plate, spraying a single that somehow stayed inside the first-base bag and chased Matz from the game.

"He tried to throw a fastball outside, and it caught a little bit too much of the plate," Ramirez said. "I was just looking to make contact."

He did, and the Padres were in business when Ryan Schimpf looped a single into left, bringing the go-ahead run to the plate. But pinch-hitter Brett Wallace went down swinging against Mets reliever Addison Reed, ending the threat.

In the bottom of the frame, Padres flamethrower Jose Dominguez -- who struggled all series after a brilliant 10-game stretch -- allowed three runs, and the game slipped out of reach.

Of course, it was Matz who put the suddenly patient Padres behind the eight-ball with his ability to consistently work ahead in the count.

"We didn't get him off his game at all," said Green. "You just have to continue to battle through at-bats. I thought there were a number of times we had fastballs in the zone we didn't put in play -- or sometimes didn't even foul off. If you're going to let him win in the zone with fastballs, it's going to be a really tough game against a guy like him."

Sunday turned into a case of the Padres tipping their collective cap to a dominant Matz.

Over the course of the season, the Padres' entire offense has evolved. Through the first two months, they ranked last in the Majors in on-base percentage. But since the beginning of June, they've more or less migrated to the middle of the pack.

They managed to work Matz enough that he was removed -- sitting on 105 pitches -- immediately after his no-hitter went by the wayside. But ultimately, it was the Padres' selectivity that allowed Matz to be able to be so effective.

"Over the last few weeks we've shown a good measure of patience," Green said. "But sometimes a guy just literally pounds the strike zone, and until you hit him out of the strike zone, you're not going to get a ton of balls up there. His strike-to-ball ratio is more than 2-to-1.

"You can't just sit back and let a guy pump strike after strike after strike. Obviously, we don't like the empty first-pitch at-bats. Sometimes it's not quite that easy."

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.