Cubs’ Ted Lilly loses no-hitter in ninth
First, a championship celebration. Then, a near no-hitter.
It was quite a night at Wrigley Field and in the end it belonged to Ted Lilly — no matter how close Gavin Floyd came to matching him.
Lilly took a no-hitter into the ninth inning before pinch-hitter Juan Pierre led off with a single, and the Chicago Cubs held on to beat the White Sox 1-0 Sunday night in a revved-up old ballpark.
“There was so much energy,” Lilly said. “I can’t remember that much energy. I guess I’d have to go back to 2001 in the World Series, some of the big game-winning homers, to get that kind of a feeling. It was awesome – really, really special.”
On a night when the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks were saluted for their Stanley Cup championship, Lilly and Floyd put on a jaw-dropping display on the mound.
“It was a fun game for everybody. Obviously it was an intense game to the end,” Floyd said.
Floyd flirted with a no-hitter of his own for the White Sox before Alfonso Soriano doubled with two outs in the bottom of the seventh. Chad Tracy followed with a single, producing the game’s only run.
That took care of Floyd’s no-hit bid — but Lilly was still going and the tension began to mount as he inched closer to the first no-hitter at storied Wrigley Field since Milt Pappas blanked San Diego on Sept. 2, 1972.
Fans booed loudly when Gordon Beckham of the White Sox tried to bunt for a hit in the eighth. He fouled it off and wound up popping up for the second out. The crowd roared after Jayson Nix popped out to end the inning.
“If you bunt in the ninth that’s not professional, but in the eighth … but Wrigley Field people, that’s the only thing they can do is boo,” White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. “They boo for every freaking thing here. That’s part of the game, but the ninth, that’s kind of a different thing.”
Lilly couldn’t close it out.
Pierre, batting for Floyd with rain falling in the ninth, lined an 0-1 slider to center for a clean single that chased Lilly, who left to a standing ovation but showed little emotion on his way to the dugout. The left-hander also took a no-hitter into the eighth inning for the New York Yankees at Seattle on April 27, 2002, losing the game 1-0 on Desi Relaford’s RBI single.
“I was just looking for something out over the plate and he threw it there and I put a good swing on that,” Pierre said.
For Lilly, the hit was a downer. He said he was “determined to get it done” but “made a bad pitch.”
“In a situation like that there’s a tendency to second-guess my pitch selection,” he said. “I can do that. But also it wasn’t a very good pitch, either. No question there’s a little bit of a letdown. You kind of get over that and realize we’re in a 1-0 game and we’ve got to somehow find a way to win this game.”
Carlos Marmol came in and walked Andruw Jones before a balk put runners at second and third with nobody out. Marmol struck out Alexei Ramirez, then intentionally walked Alex Rios to load the bases for a surging Paul Konerko, who came into the game on a 20-for-42 tear.
With White Sox fans chanting “Paulie! Paulie!” he grounded into a force at the plate. Carlos Quentin flied to center to end the game, giving Marmol his 13th save in 16 chances.
It was the latest exceptional performance on the mound this season, which is becoming the year of the pitcher. Ubaldo Jimenez tossed a no-hitter for Colorado, while Oakland lefty Dallas Braden and Philadelphia ace Roy Halladay each hurled a perfect game.
And that doesn’t even include Armando Galarraga’s near-perfect game on June 2 for Detroit, spoiled when umpire Jim Joyce blew a call at first base.
The last time two big-league teams were both held hitless through 6 1/2 innings was July 13, 1980, in a game between the Yankees and White Sox, according to STATS LLC.
In Chicago, it’s been far from a perfect season, with both teams struggling.
The win was the first for Lilly (2-5) since he beat Milwaukee in his first start this season. He struck out three, walked one and hit two batters with pitches after going 0-5 in his previous eight starts. The Cubs won for only the fourth time in 13 games while avoiding a sweep against their crosstown rivals.
“There were probably three or four innings in a row I didn’t have to move my glove much,” catcher Koyie Hill said. “He was in a groove.”
The White Sox had won five straight against the Cubs, and around the fifth inning, Floyd started thinking about a no-hitter.
“I remember both teams hitting some balls (hard) but I wasn’t really paying attention,” he said. “I just looked up at the scoreboard and there wasn’t any hits. That’s kind of neat.”’
Instead of making history, Floyd (2-7) took a tough-luck loss and the White Sox had their season-high four-game winning streak snapped.
Floyd allowed three hits and walked three while striking out a season-high nine in his fourth career complete game. He came up just short on a night when he and Lilly both were brilliant.
NOTES: The only double no-hitter through nine innings in major-league history was May 2, 1917, at Wrigley Field, with Cincinnati’s Fred Toney and Chicago’s Hippo Vaughn on the mound. The Reds beat the Cubs 1-0 in 10 innings.