PITTSBURGH - A.J. Burnett was 24 when he threw his only no-hitter.
Now in his 15th major-league season, the 36-year-old Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander knows his career is winding down. He would love to add a second one before retiring.
"Absolutely," Burnett said. "My goal every time out is to throw a no-hitter. I know they are major-league hitters that I'm facing and I respect them, but my job is not to give up hits. You should go to the mound with that mindset."
Burnett made a pretty good attempt as the Pirates beat St. Louis 5-0 Wednesday night, taking a no-hit bid into the seventh inning before Carlos Beltran doubled to right-center with two outs. That was the lone hit given up by Burnett in seven dominant innings.
"I looked at Carlos when he got to second base and said, 'Couldn't you have had one more swing-and-miss against me?' " Burnett said with a smile.
Beltran said he hit a hanging slider.
"He threw me a slider the pitch before and I thought he would come back with it," Beltran said. "He left it out over the plate. It was about the only bad pitch he made. He was very good."
The only other runner Burnett allowed came when he hit Daniel Descalso with a 2-2 pitch with one out in the sixth to end his chances for a perfect game. Burnett struck out eight to raise his season total to 35.
His latest bid for a no-hitter came on a night when he recorded the 2,000th strikeout of his career. Burnett reached the milestone when he caught Beltran looking to lead off the second.
"If anybody doesn't appreciate what a milestone 2,000 strikeouts is, then they've never played the game or they have no respect for the game," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said.
Former Wildcat Mark Melancon, Tony Watson and Jason Grilli completed the one-hitter. It was the Pirates' second shutout of the season and the second time the Cardinals had been blanked.