The trouble with an outstanding performance is trying to follow it. Harper Lee wrote “To Kill a Mockingbird” and called it a career. Steam never could follow up “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye,” which was a genuine American tragedy.
There have been 283 no-hitters thrown in major league history and yet Johnny Vander Meer is the only one to pull it off in consecutive games. It is one tough encore.
Josh Beckett is the latest to have thrown a no-hitter, and he found following the best performance of his life on the challenging side Friday in the Dodger’s 2-1 loss to the Pirates before a Dodger Stadium crowd of 47,503.
Which is not to say he pitched poorly, because he certainly did not. But expectations do tend to rise when you no-hit a team, as Beckett did Sunday against the Phillies in Philadelphia.
It took Beckett a career-high 128 pitches to throw his no-hitter, so it didn’t figure he would go very long Friday, and he did not. Beckett went five innings, giving up two runs on five hits and a walk. He struck out five.
He retired the Pirates in order in the first inning before giving up his first hit with one out in the second on a single by former Dodgers catcher Russell Martin. He lost his shutout after he hit Starling Marte and walked Clint Barmes to lead off the third inning.
Catcher Drew Butera fired down to second base to pick off Marte -- Butera also threw out two would-be basestealers -- before Beckett struck out opposing pitcher Francisco Liriano. But a single from Josh Harrison sent Barmes to third and a hit by Neil Walker scored Barmes.
Pittsburgh’s second run came in the fourth inning and was of the quick variety. First baseman Ike Davis absolutely crushed a Beckett pitch, sending it well beyond the center-field wall. It was estimated at 453 feet.
The Dodgers, meanwhile, could do little with Liriano, who had yet to win a game this season in 11 previous starts. On this night, Liriano held the Dodgers scoreless for 5 2/3 innings on five hits, two walks and eight strikeouts.
The Dodgers finally pushed a run across against reliever Mark Melancon in the eighth inning after Chone Figgins led off with a single, took second on Yasiel Puig's groundout and scored on a single by Hanley Ramirez.
Puig did single in the fourth, extending his streak of reaching base to 31 consecutive innings.
The Dodgers’ bullpen held the Pirates scoreless over the final four innings, but the offense could only manage the one run.
The loss was the Dodgers’ third consecutive and dropped them to a season-high 7½ games back of the Giants in the National League West.