Homer Bailey fanned a season-high 11 in six no-hit frames, but it wasn't enough as visiting Sarasota fell to Jupiter, 2-1, on Monday.
Bailey left with a 1-0 lead after the sixth inning. The right-hander tossed his most dominant start for the Reds (16-15) to date. He also didn't allow any hits or runs through six against Lakeland on April 27, but that no-hit bid was broken up on a one-out bunt single in the ninth inning.
Just two batters reached base against Bailey in this contest. Brad McCann walked with two outs in the first and Brad Davis got aboard on catcher's interference in the second.
Bailey's stuff was untouchable as only two balls were hit out of the infield and his 11 strikeouts matched a career high set on August 11, 2005, while pitching for the Dayton Dragons of the Midwest League.
'It wasn't a whole lot of strain," Bailey said. "I'm getting at my peak toward the end of the start. All the games I have been taken out in, I feel like I had been rolling. I was getting stronger the last two innings and starting to unwind. For the first time in a while, I felt like I had control of my curveball. All three of my pitches were working and I felt like I was able to locate them all."
Bailey wanted to head out for the seventh, but the Reds have a strict 90-pitch limit for the 2004 first-round pick. The Hammerheads (13-18) immediately broke up the no-hitter and snagged the win off Sarasota reliever Jeremy Schmidt (0-3).
Schmidt began the seventh by walking McCann and giving up a single up the middle to Grant Psomas. McCann scored two batters later when J.C. Muniz reached on a fielder's choice. Brian Cleveland gave Jupiter a 2-1 lead later in the frame with a sacrifice fly to left off reliever Carlos Bohorquez that plated Psomas.
"That bullpen has picked me up time and again. I'm not mad about it," Bailey said. "In the long run it evens out. Schmidt came in and a few plays could have turned it all around. It was one of those funny innings."
The 6-foot-4, 205-pound Bailey struck out six straight batters in the third and fourth innings.
"At that point, I was thinking about locating my fastball and trying to change speeds," he said. "But I don't really remember how it happened. I was just thinking about attacking the hitter with my fastball."
Bailey has 44 strikeouts over 37 2/3 innings with a 3.35 ERA in seven starts, but has struggled to a 1-3 record while trying to find consistency. He had his worst start on his 20th birthday last Wednesday, giving up five runs on six hits and two walks in 5 1/3 innings against Dunedin. He also got roughed up on April 22, allowing four runs in five innings, five days after tossing a one-hitter over five scoreless frames.
"If I knew how to be consistent, I'd be a rich man," Bailey said. "Every game you look at what you did right and you look at how you can do that again. The only bad thing I did this start was I was drifting a little bit forward early on and that was affecting my curveball. I don't know how dominant this start was, but I look at it as I had a good game."
Jupiter starter Gabriel Hernandez (4-2) was nearly as good as Bailey, with one run on five hits and seven strikeouts over seven innings. Harvey Garcia retired the side in order in the ninth for his sixth save.
Cody Strait gave Sarasota a 1-0 lead in the opening frame by singling in Brandon Roberts.