Six Seattle Mariners pitchers tossed the first combined no-hitter in almost nine years on Friday and the M's held on for a 1-0 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the opener of a three-game set at Safeco Field.
Kevin Millwood went the first six innings before exiting with a strained right groin and the combination of Charlie Furbush, Stephen Pryor, Lucas Luetge, Brandon League and Tom Wilhelmsen finished off the fourth no-hitter of the 2012 season and just the third in Seattle Mariners franchise history.
With Wilhelmsen on the mound for the ninth, it appeared that Dee Gordon had gotten the first Los Angeles hit when he slapped a grounder to shortstop Brendan Ryan, who just entered the game as a defensive substitution, but Ryan was up with the ball quickly and got Gordon by a half-step for the first out.
Elian Herrera followed with a liner to Ryan for the second out and Andre Ethier, the National League leader in RBI, was all that stood between the Mariners and the no-no.
Ethier fouled off the first pitch of the at-bat and rolled over on a fastball on the second pitch, sending a soft grounder to second baseman Dustin Ackley. Ackley threw over to first baseman Justin Smoak for the final out and the celebration was on as the Mariners surrounded Wilhelmsen and catcher Jesus Montero on the mound.
"I really didn't know what to do, I've never been a part of that," Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager said. "Brendan's play on the first out was phenomenal and when we got that final out, it just made your hair stand up."
This was the 10th combined no-hitter in major league history and the first since the Houston Astros needed six hurlers to beat the New York Yankees on June 11, 2003.
Chris Bosio and Randy Johnson are the only other Seattle pitchers to complete a no-hitter.
Seager knocked in the only run of the game with an RBI base hit in the seventh inning and Ichiro Suzuki finished 3-for-4 and scored the lone run for the Mariners, who have won two straight and began their nine-game homestand with an exclamation point.
With Millwood out of the game, Furbush came on in the top of the seventh and the Dodgers put themselves in a position to take the lead. Herrera reached base on a throwing error by Furbush and wound up on second with one out. After Ethier struck out, Pryor was summoned from the bullpen and fanned Juan Rivera to keep the Dodgers off the board.
Furbush said that he wasn't thinking about the no-hitter:
"I really wasn't thinking about it," he said. I was just out there trying to do my job and get people out."
After escaping trouble in the top of the seventh, Seattle produced the game- winning two-out rally in the home half.
Mike Carp and Munenori Kawasaki struck out to begin the frame, but Suzuki started the rally by beating out an infield hit off Dodgers reliever Scott Elbert (0-1) and stole second without a throw. Ackley followed with a walk and Seager came up with a clutch RBI single into left to score Suzuki for the 1-0 lead.
"I got down 0-2 and I just tried to battle and put the ball in play," Seager said of his game-winning hit.
The no-hitter appeared to be in serious jeopardy in the top of the eighth after Pryor (1-0) walked Bobby Abreu and Jerry Hairston Jr. to start the inning.
Mariners manager Eric Wedge then called on Luetge, who was able to get the first out when James Loney gave himself up with a sacrifice bunt. League entered next with runners on second and third and got A. J. Ellis to fly out before striking out Tony Gwynn Jr. to keep the no-hitter intact.
"It doesn't feel that bad," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said of being on the losing end."I had visions of winning that game without a hit."
The Houston Astros used Roy Oswalt, Pete Munro, Kirk Saarloos, Brad Lidge, Octavio Dotel and Billy Wagner to complete their combined no-hitter in 2003...Johan Santana, Philip Humber and Jered Weaver have also thrown no- hitters this season...Wilhelmsen picked up his third save of the season...Millwood walked one and struck out six. He also no-hit the San Francisco Giants by himself as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies in 2003...Bosio completed the feat on April 22, 1993 against the Boston Red Sox, while Johnson spun his gem on June 2, 1990 against the Detroit Tigers...Dodgers starter Nathan Eovaldi allowed five hits and two walks over six shutout innings.