Cardinals rookie Michael Wacha came within one out of pitching the third no-hitter of the Major League Baseball season in a 2-0 defeat of the Washington Nationals that moved St. Louis closer to a division title.
Ryan Zimmerman reached on an infield single after pinch-hitter Stephen Lombardozzi grounded out and Denard Span struck out in the ninth inning at Busch Stadium in St. Louis last night. Zimmerman made it to first base just ahead of shortstop Pete Kozma’s throw after the ball bounced over the outstretched glove of a leaping Wacha.
“I guess it was meant to be, I guess I wasn’t meant to throw one,” Wacha said in a televised interview.
Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers came within one out of pitching the earliest perfect game in a season on April 3. On Sept. 6, Yusmeiro Petit of the San Francisco Giants surrendered a hit to Eric Chavez of the Arizona Diamondbacks on a full count when needing one out to log the 24th perfect game in the major leagues.
On May 25, Anibal Sanchez of the Detroit Tigers came within two outs of throwing the first no-hitter of the season.
Had Wacha’s bid held, it would have been the 11th no-hitter in Cardinals history and the first since Bud Smith, also a rookie at the time, achieved the feat on Sept. 3, 2001.
The 22-year-old Wacha threw 112 pitches, struck out nine and walked two batters in his ninth career start. He left the game to a standing ovation after Zimmerman’s hit.
The right-hander was taken by St. Louis with the 19th overall pick in the 2012 amateur draft out of Texas A&M University and made his major league debut on May 30. He has a 4-1 record with a 2.78 earned run average.
With four games remaining, St. Louis (93-65) is assured of a playoff spot and leads the National League Central division by two games over the Pittsburgh Pirates (91-67), who beat the Chicago Cubs 8-2 last night.
Two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum of the Giants threw the second no-hitter this season on July 13, 11 days after taking the loss when Homer Bailey of the Cincinnati Reds got the first. Bailey also threw the last of 2012’s seven no-hitters, on Sept. 28 against the Pirates.
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