CINCINNATI -- The 21st-century boon of advanced statistical analysis has fans and some media discounting the importance of a pitcher's win total.
Yet go ahead and ask a pitcher what he cares most about from a game and he'll generally say it's victories. It was crystal clear how Bronson Arroyo felt Tuesday night at Great American Ball Park. Arroyo lost a no-hitter in the eighth inning and was only kicking himself about not getting a "W."
Instead, Arroyo settled for a no-decision as the Reds beat the Brewers in a 4-3 thriller on Drew Stubbs' leadoff homer in the bottom of the eighth. Cincinnati has taken the first two games of the three-game series.
"Just to go out there and have a performance like that, you can never expect to throw a no-hitter," Arroyo said. "And, honestly, I could care less if I throw a no-hitter. I'd rather have a win tagged by the side of my name. This game is hard enough as it is to grind out every day year after year after year. I've got three wins at this point in the season and it's definitely frustrating."
Cincinnati had a 3-0 lead, via Jay Bruce's three-run home run in the sixth inning, when a three-run Brewers eighth inning cost Arroyo his no-hitter, a shutout and a victory.
On his third batter of the game, Arroyo hit Ryan Braun with a pitch on a full count. After that, he retired 20 in a row -- including Braun on a lineout and cleanup hitter Aramis Ramirez on a fly to right field with his 82nd pitch. The 32,986 fans brought electricity to the evening, cheering with every out.
"Probably after the fifth, I knew there were no hits just because you're not pitching from the stretch a whole lot," Arroyo said. "It's pretty apparent. You could hear the crowd get louder as the innings went by."
Things began to go awry as George Kottaras walked with one out in the eighth inning, also on a full-count offering.
On a 1-2 pitch, next batter Tyler Green lifted a double that landed just inside the line near the right-field corner to quash the no-hitter.
"I was hoping it would stay fair, and it wasn't by much," said Green, a .208 hitter this season. "By the fifth inning, you see the zero up there, and you really want to get one."
The crowd applauded in appreciation of Arroyo's effort, but manager Dusty Baker and pitching coach Bryan Price now had to decide how long to leave Arroyo in the game.
"Of all the pitchers, Bronson is probably the hardest guy to know when to go get, by far," Baker said. "Early in the year, we went and got him and somebody else gave up the game a couple of times. And if you leave him out there, sometimes he can give it up."
Moments later, the shutout was wiped out when Arroyo hung a 1-0 changeup to pinch-hitter Corey Hart. It was lifted for a two-run double to center field. With two outs, the lead evaporated on Norichika Aoki's RBI single that scored Hart with the tying run.
"It was a changeup," Arroyo said. "It was actually a pretty good pitch, but it was just the one thing I didn't want. Me and [catcher Ryan] Hanigan had a conversation, and I said, 'I'd rather walk him, hit him, do anything than let him dink the ball to left field and tie the ballgame,' and that's exactly what he did."
Baker came to get Arroyo, who left to a standing ovation. Sean Marshall took over and got Cody Ransom to pop out and end the inning.
"Had he not gotten that changeup up, he probably would have hit it on the ground to [shortstop Zack] Cozart instead of hitting a line drive," Baker said. "It's a game of inches. When it works, everything is fine. When it doesn't, you've got to explain for it and explain why."
Arroyo completed 7 2/3 innings with three runs and three hits allowed, one walk and four strikeouts. There have been 17 no-hitters in Reds history, but none since Tom Browning threw a perfect game vs. the Dodgers on Sept. 16, 1988.
"Once I got through the meat of the order with Braun and Ramirez in the seventh there, I thought we had a chance to do it," said Arroyo, who is 3-5 with a 4.13 ERA in 15 starts this season. "It was just disappointing to lose the lead. To work that hard in the ballgame and have a gem like that and walk away with a no-decision like that is just terrible."
It was a tough night for Reds hitters, who struck out 15 times -- including 12 against Brewers starter Marco Estrada, who didn't give up a hit until two outs in the fourth inning. But the big hits came when they had to. With one out in the sixth, after Joey Votto's double and Brandon Phillips' single, Bruce lifted a first pitch to right field for the three-run homer and the lead.
And after Arroyo lost his lead in the eighth, Stubbs responded in the bottom of the inning by belting John Axford's first pitch for a homer over the center-field wall.
"Bronson really got the short end of the stick tonight," Stubbs said. "He pitched a fantastic game and just caught some rough breaks late. The way we were in complete control of the game, then had them tie it, then regain the lead with the home run spoke volumes for the resiliency."
Adding to the memorable night was struggling closer Aroldis Chapman, who battled in the ninth. Chapman went to a 3-0 count before striking out Braun and walked Ramirez on four pitches. Chapman recovered to strike out the side for his ninth save and euphorically performed two somersaults on the grass in front of the mound.
In his previous seven games, Chapman was 0-4 with two blown saves. However, his postgame maneuver was not received well by the Reds.
"I know he was happy, especially after the bad week he had last week, but that's something -- we don't play like that," Baker said.