Nieto lost his no-hit bid on a two-run triple in the eighth inning before the Palm Beach Cardinals scored in the 10th to beat the Daytona Cubs, 3-2, on Saturday.
Entering the eighth inning hovering around the 100-pitch mark, the Cardinals prospect struck out leadoff batter Michael Brenly. He walked Rafael Valdes but got Dustin Harrington to hit a ground ball to shortstop Domnit Bolivar, whose throw went into right field for an error. Matt Szczur followed with a triple to left field, tying the game at 2-2 while ending Nieto's no-hit bid and his night.
"Errors are in the game," Nieto said. "I talked to my second baseman and told him, 'Hey, I'm gonna get another ground ball so you can make the play.'"
Making his second Florida State League start of the season, Nieto struck out four and walked four. He credited pitching coach Dennis Martinez after his longest outing since pitching 8 2/3 innings on July 18, 2010.
"My first outing of the year I was a little slow and I began to work with pitching coach Dennis Martinez on my slider," Nieto said. "Everything was working today. I was throwing a lot of changeups and that's why I got a lot of ground balls."
Nieto fell five outs short of completing the first no-hitter in team history. On May 31, Joe Kelly pitched 7 2/3 hitless innings before Dunedin's Kevin Ahrens singled. Despite his high pitch count, Nieto was not surprised to find himself on the mound in the eighth.
"Martinez said, 'This is your game, it only happens once in a while,'" the native of Panama said. "I was a little anxious. This is my third time in this situation, so I was like, 'I want to try to get it.' I was concentrating, hitter by hitter, pitch by pitch."
Nieto flirted with no-hitters in 2009 with Class A Quad Cities, tossing five perfect frames before giving up a leadoff single in the sixth on May 12 against Peoria. On July 4, his bid ended with one out in the eighth on a two-run homer.
"I was pitching the fifth and Martinez said, 'Look to the [scoreboard],' and I looked to the board and realized I was pitching a no-hitter," Nieto said. "I was like, 'OK, this is my game, go get 'em.'"
Nieto expressed no frustration about how his night ended, saying, "I'm happy because I did my job well."
The 22-year-old right-hander was making just his eighth appearance of the season after spending time on the disabled list. He's 1-2 with a 3.96 ERA between the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League and Palm Beach.
The Cardinals came away with the win as Szczur's error in center field allowed Luis De La Cruz to score the go-ahead run in the 10th. Ryde Rodriguez and Kyle Conley hit solo homers to stake Palm Beach to a 2-0 lead.
Jordan Swagerty, the Cardinals' No. 5 prospect, tossed a perfect 10th for his third save after Jesse Simpson (4-1) retired the only two batters he faced for the win.