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Szczur's hustle play nearly preserves no-no

CHICAGO -- Matt Szczur snared a line drive for the last out of Chris Rusin's no-hitter on May 7 when the two were together at Triple-A Iowa. On Tuesday night, the rookie outfielder nearly preserved a no-no for the Cubs' Jake Arrieta.

Arrieta had a no-hitter through 7 1/3 innings when Brandon Phillips lined an 0-2 pitch toward the gap in left-center that dropped just past an outstretched Szczur for the Reds' first and only hit.

"I was planning on running through the wall if I had to," Szczur said. "It's a shame I couldn't come up with it. I made the best effort."

He was close.

"He closed the gap on that ball pretty well," Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. "I think off the bat, I don't think anybody thought he had a chance. He must have come within a foot of that. It was a great effort by that young man. That's one of the traits Szczur brings to the table is that energy and effort, and that's what carries him a long ways."

Arrieta could only shrug. It's the third time he's taken a no-hitter into the seventh, yet come up empty handed.

"There's nothing you can do there other than make a little bit better pitch," Arrieta said. "That's the way it goes."

Catcher John Baker and Szczur watched a replay of the near-catch several times after the game.

"I told him that if he was left-handed, he would've caught it," Baker said. "That guy went for it and was disappointed he didn't get it."

Szczur was miffed.

"I was going to do anything to try to save that," Szczur said. "It was no different if he'd given up four or five hits, I would've done the same thing. It was close -- I was watching on the replay and I was about four inches off.

"I had a great jump, a great read on the ball," he said. "I thought I was going to catch it when I took the first couple steps."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.
Read More: Chicago Cubs, Matt Szczur