Published June 09, 2012
SEATTLE – Maybe it was the unique qualities of this no-hitter that kept the Los Angeles Dodgers from feeling so bad after they were stifled by a six-pack of Seattle pitchers.
"It's just one game. It's like getting beat 15-14," Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis said Friday night. "It doesn't mean anything other than it's a loss."
Maybe not to Ellis, but the Dodgers found themselves a spot in baseball history when Kevin Millwood and five Seattle relievers pieced together the fourth no-hitter of the major league season in a 1-0 win over Los Angeles.
Seattle's combined no-hitter joined the gems pitched by the Angels' Jered Weaver, the Mets' Johan Santana and White Sox right-hander Philip Humber, who threw a perfect game at Seattle in April.
This one was by far the least conventional, tying the record for most pitchers in a no-hitter.
It was the 10th combined no-hitter in big league history and the first since six Astros accomplished the feat at Yankee Stadium on June 11, 2003. Roy Oswalt started that interleague game for Houston but left two pitches into the second inning with a strained right groin.
"You play so many games you have to move on. You lose a game and go on to the next day and try to win each and every day," Dodgers first baseman James Loney said. "It's hard right after the game."
The Dodgers came to Seattle fresh off a sweep of Philadelphia and riding a four-game winning streak with the best record in baseball. Their first visit to the Pacific Northwest in a dozen years was immediately marked by the first no-hitter thrown against the Dodgers since Atlanta's Kent Mercker on April 8, 1994.
Weaver and Jose Arredondo combined to hold the Dodgers hitless for eight innings in a 1-0 Dodgers win in 2008, but that game doesn't count as a no-hitter under the rules baseball adopted in 1991 because the Angels only had to pitch eight innings.
Exactly a week after Santana pitched the first no-hitter in Mets history, Millwood cruised through six innings, giving up only a walk. But after throwing his first warmup pitch for the seventh he felt a twinge in his groin and came out.
Seattle's bullpen never wavered, finishing the no-hitter when Tom Wilhelmsen retired Andre Ethier on a routine grounder to second base that ended a 1-2-3 ninth inning.
It was Wilhelmsen's third save.
"That was unbelievable. I've never been a part of anything like that with that many guys coming in and keeping the no-hitter intact," said Kyle Seager, who drove in Ichiro Suzuki with a two-out single in the seventh.
The Dodgers nearly got a hit when speedy Dee Gordon led off the ninth with a slow roller to shortstop. Brendan Ryan, who had just entered as a defensive replacement, charged in and fired to first, where umpire Ted Barrett called Gordon out on a bang-bang play.
Gordon and Mattingly argued. Replays were inconclusive.
Elian Herrera then lined out to Ryan before Ethier's grounder ended the first no-hitter for the Mariners since Chris Bosio pitched one against Boston on April 22, 1993. Seattle's other no-hitter was thrown by Randy Johnson against Detroit on June 2, 1990.
Gordon was responsible for the Dodgers' two closest calls. It was tough to determine if he was safe in the ninth, but he was clearly out leading off the fourth when he tried bunting for a base hit. Seager ran in from third for a fine barehanded pickup and threw out Gordon by a half-step.
"At that point of the game, it was still so early," Seager said.
Seager was right. No one could have expected the odd twists to come later.
Everything appeared fine when Millwood came out for the seventh, but he threw one warmup pitch and stopped himself from throwing a second as he felt something wrong. Mariners manager Eric Wedge and trainer Rick Griffin came out to check on Millwood, who was replaced by Charlie Furbush.
It was later announced that Millwood had a mild right groin strain. The right-hander, who struck out six and threw 68 of Seattle's 114 pitches, said he actually felt it on the next-to-last pitch of the sixth.
Furbush retired Gordon to start the seventh, but committed a two-base throwing error on Herrera's grounder, giving the Dodgers their first scoring chance. Furbush struck out Ethier, and Wedge went to hard-throwing rookie Stephen Pryor (1-0) to face Juan Rivera.
Rivera went down on strikes but Pryor started the eighth by walking Bobby Abreu and Jerry Hairston Jr. on nine pitches. Lucas Luetge was next in line and got the first out of the inning on Loney's sacrifice bunt.
That brought up Ellis and Seattle turned to one-time closer Brandon League, recently demoted from that role. League got Ellis to hit a sinking liner to left and defensive replacement Chone Figgins made a running catch. His strong throw home kept pinch-runner Alex Castellanos at third base.
League then struck out Tony Gwynn Jr. to end the inning.
"Really, I had visions of winning that game without a hit," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "First and second, I'm thinking wild pitch, sac fly. With League in the game, that split, you never know."
Seattle's run came in the seventh inning thanks to a two-out rally started by Suzuki's infield single. He stole second, Dustin Ackley walked and Seager came through with his 23rd two-out RBI of the season. His line-drive single off reliever Scott Elbert (0-1) glanced off the glove of a leaping Gordon and dropped in left field.
Lost in the performance by Seattle's pitchers was a strong start by 22-year-old Dodgers prospect Nathan Eovaldi. He went six innings, giving up five hits and striking out six.
"I'm just trying to keep us in the game and do my job. That is all I can control," Eovaldi said.
NOTES: It was the Dodgers' fourth game in Seattle and first since 2000. ... It was Pryor's first major league win.