Immediately after Jose Tabata broke up Andrew Cashner’s bid for a perfect game in the seventh inning Monday night Padres third baseman Chase Headley and catcher Rene Rivera intercepted the 6-foot-6 right-hander as he walked back up the mound.

“I wanted to give him a chance to breathe” said Headley. “I told him he had my heart going.”

“I think Chase and I just wanted to give him a break” said Rivera. “You get to that point and give up a hit you know I just wanted to be sure.”

Seconds later Headley and Rivera looked at each other and headed back to their positions.

“He was totally locked in” said Headley. “He had moved on. He was ready for that next guy.”

And the next and the next . . .

Cashner who turned 27 last Wednesday arguably pitched the greatest game in Padres history Monday night to beat the playoff-bound Pittsburgh Pirates 2-0 before 20633 at PNC Park.

Not only did he throw the 27th one-hitter in Padres history he became the first Padres pitcher ever to face the minimum 27 hitters in a nine-inning game. One out after Tabata singled leading off the the seventh he was erased on an inning-ending double-play grounder.

One hit no walks no one left on. Twenty-seven up twenty-seven down with one small hitch.

Again no Padre has ever thrown a no-hitter. But Cashner came within one hit of perfection.

There have only been 23 perfect games in major league history. Cashner came within a pitch of making it 24.

After retiring the first 18 Pirates he faced Cashner fell behind 2-and-1 to Tabata and went after the Pirates lead-off hitter with a low outside fastball.