PITTSBURGH -- James McDonald already knew about breaking up no-hitters. On Wednesday, he learned something about trying to pitch them: Not easy.On a bright afternoon, in the first game of a doubleheader at PNC Park, McDonald perpetuated the fantasy into the seventh inning. The dream died on Troy Tulowitzki's infield single with none out -- the only hit McDonald allowed in a sterling seven-inning turn. Tyler Colvin's eighth-inning sacrifice fly ultimately gave Colorado a 2-1 win -- and backed the Bucs into a Major League record. They've yet to score or allow more than five runs in any of their 17 games, tying the 1943 Tigers' mark for the longest such season-opening stretch. That hit by Tulowitzki led to the run that snapped a scoreless tie. McDonald at least was spared a harsh loss when Pedro Alvarez -- off whose glove Tulowitzki had singled minutes earlier -- led off the bottom of the seventh with a game-tying solo homer off Juan Nicasio. McDonald fell short of what likely would have been an unprecedented parlay: Breaking up and pitching a no-hitter in the same month. On April 13 in San Francisco, his single in the sixth had been the only thing to come between Matt Cain and a perfect game. McDonald allowed the one hit and one run in his seven innings, walking three and striking out eight. Nicasio was a worthy and dogged adversary, going 6 2/3 innings on a yield of nine hits and a run, with one walk and five whiffs. McDonald and Nicasio thus collaborated on a tough act to follow for nightcap starters Charlie Morton of the Bucs and the Rockies' Jhoulys Chacin. As often happens, the Rockies broke up McDonald's no-hitter and shutout almost simultaneously. Carlos Gonzalez was aboard with a leadoff walk when Tulowitzki's hard-hit ball into the hole could be only deflected by Alvarez. Gonzalez reached second on that infield single, moved to third on a wild pitch, and a little later scored on Jason Giambi's sacrifice fly. Even before he allowed a hit, McDonald had to pitch out of a jam. He dug a hole for himself by hitting Giambi with his second pitch of the fifth, and following that with a four-pitch walk of Michael Cuddyer. Nonplussed, McDonald got Wilin Rosario to bounce into a double play and, with Cuddyer on third and only one breaking ball in the dirt from scoring, turned Chris Nelson into his fifth strikeout victim. As the game progressed, the spectre of a forsaken first-inning run grew larger. Alex Presley, having led off the game with a single, went for a steal of second with Andrew McCutchen at bat. Presley was erased on catcher Rosario's throw. Naturally, McCutchen rocked the very next pitch to the base of the center-field wall for a double that would have scored Presley.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.