MANCHESTER, N.H. - Brian Van Kirk continued his on-base surge on Thursday night, drawing a sixth-inning walk to push his on-base streak to 41 of the last 43 Fisher Cats games. That was the only bright spot in a 5-0 loss in which the Fisher Cats (52-51) were no-hit by the Altoona Curve (47-56) in the opener of a four-game series at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium.
Altoona jumped ahead early, scoring the game's first run against starter Sean Nolin (L; 7-3). Gregory Polanco drilled a solo home run to right field with two outs in the top of the first inning for a 1-0 lead.
The Curve, Double-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates, scored three more runs in the top of the fourth to build a 4-0 lead. Nolin left the game after five for Matt Wright, who allowed a sixth-inning run to pad the Curve's advantage at 5-0.
That modest lead was more than enough on a nearly perfect night for Curve pitching. Starter Ethan Hollingsworth tossed the first four frames, allowing only Adam Loewen to reach when he plunked him in the foot to lead off the fourth. Jason Townsend (W; 2-3) continued the no-hit effort with three innings before turning it over to Jhonathan Ramos and Ryan Beckman for the final two frames.
The no-hitter was the second thrown by the Curve in their franchise history while the Fisher Cats were no-hit for just the second time, the first since August 26, 2011.
Van Kirk was the only other batter to reach for New Hampshire, drawing a walk in the sixth. He has been on base in 41 of his last 42 starts and has now drawn 39 walks in his last 39 games. Since June 1, he is hitting .296 with an on-base percentage of .454.
The series continues on Friday night with a 7:05pm game against the Curve. It's Ford Day presented by your New England Ford Dealers, and a spectacular Atlas Fireworks Show will follow the game. Tickets are available at www.nhfishercats.com, at the Fisher Cats ticket office, and by calling (603) 641-2005.
RHP Marcus Walden (6-10, 3.36) starts for New Hampshire and LHP Nate Baker (2-1, 7.15) for Altoona. Live coverage with Tom Gauthier and Charlie Sherman begins at 6:45pm on the WGIR Fisher Cats Radio Network and online at www.nhfishercats.com.