Scott Diamond has pitched well since joining Triple-A Gwinnett in mid-July, but his gem of an outing Monday night was on another level.
The left-handed Braves prospect took a no-hitter into the eighth inning, ultimately allowing two hits while going the distance as Gwinnett blanked Norfolk, 4-0, in its final home game of the season. He struck out eight and walked one while throwing a season-high 112 pitches -- 77 for strikes.
"I was a little on edge coming into the dugout after the eighth, but the manager said I was going back out for the ninth," Diamond said. "I'd never had the chance to finish off a nine-inning game before."
Diamond, whom the Braves signed as an undrafted free agent in 2007, began the season with Double-A Mississippi, where he posted a 4-6 record and a 3.52 ERA in 17 starts. He was roughed up for six runs over three innings in his Triple-A debut at Buffalo on July 16, but entered Monday's contest 3-0 with a 2.91 ERA in eight starts for the G-Braves.
Norfolk's leadoff batter in the first inning, center fielder Jeff Salazar, reached on a fielding error by Gwinnett second baseman Wes Timmons. Salazar was quickly erased as Robert Andino grounded into a double play, and Diamond went on to retire the next 19 batters in order.
"[Catcher J.C.] Boscan and I were really on the same page tonight, and I was mixing the changeup and curveball pretty well," said Diamond.
Having faced the minimum through seven frames, Diamond took on Tides left fielder Nolan Reimold to open the eighth. Reimold slapped a ground ball that bounced off third base and into the outfield for a double. After Lou Montanez went down on strikes, Diamond issued his only walk of the game before retiring the next two batters to end the threat.
"It kind of short-hopped off the bag," Diamond said. "I'm not sure if we'd have gotten him if it hadn't hit the base, but it would have been close."
Tides shortstop Robert Andino smacked a two-out double in the ninth, but was stranded there. Norfolk did not advance a runner past second base.
Diamond improved to 4-0 with his first career nine-inning complete game and shutout. He pitched a seven-inning shutout for Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach on Aug. 26, 2008.
Gwinnett scored three times in the second, with Barbaro Canizares delivering a two-run blast and former National League All-Star Nate McLouth driving in Joe Thurston with a single to left. Canizares added a single in the eighth to lift his batting average to .339.
Norfolk starter Zach Britton fell to 3-4 after allowing four runs -- one earned -- on six hits over five innings. He struck out three and walked two.
Gwinnett, which trails division champion Durham by 15 games, closed out its home schedule with a pair of wins and a 38-33 record at Coolray Field.