Schilling’s no-hitter broken up one batter short
OAKLAND, Calif. ” Curt Schilling came within one out of his first career no-hitter Thursday, losing his bid when Shannon Stewart lined a clean single to right field in Boston’s 1-0 victory over the Oakland Athletics.
Schilling looked on his way to making history when he retired Mark Kotsay and Jason Kendall on grounders to shortstop for the first two outs of the ninth.
With strong contingent of a Red Sox fans cheering on at the Coliseum, Stewart lined the first pitch through the hole between first and second for Oakland’s only hit. Schilling said he shook off catcher Jason Varitek on that pitch.
Schilling’s teammates in the dugout and many of the fans gave him a standing ovation after the hit and he paced behind the mound for a short time, trying to gather his composure and not lose more than a no-hitter.
“It’s 1-0. Get the out,” Schilling recalled thinking. “We needed that win today more than anything.”
Schilling (6-2) retired Mark Ellis on a foul popout to end the third one-hitter of his career. He did it in 1992 against the New York Mets and 10 years later against Milwaukee. He lost those bids early ” in the third inning against the Brewers, the fifth against the Mets.
The 40-year-old would have been the third-oldest pitcher pitch a no-hitter. Nolan Ryan did it as a 43- and 44-year old, and Cy Young was 41 when he pitched a no-hitter for the Red Sox in 1908.
David Ortiz hit his 11th home run in the first inning against Joe Blanton (5-4) to give Schilling all the support he would need and help Boston stop a season-high four-game losing streak.
Schilling was a model of efficiency, pounding the strike zone reaching a three-ball count only once. He got the A’s to hit routine fly balls to the spacious Coliseum outfield, recording 12 of his outs in the air. He also struck out four in the 100-pitch outing ” his first shutout since May 14, 2003, for Arizona against Philadelphia, and first complete game since 2004.
“It was fun,” Schilling said. “It was 1-0 the whole day so that kind of alleviates thinking about anything else. In a 1-0 game, you’re trying to stay away from a tie.”
Only one of those fly balls came close to a hit before the ninth. But Coco Crisp made a nice running catch before crashing into the wall in front of the 400-foot sign in center field to rob Kotsay of an extra-base hit leading off the sixth inning.
Schilling, who had just one win in his previous five starts, retired his first 14 batters before Johnson’s two-out grounder in the fifth inning handcuffed Julio Lugo for an error. Schilling got out of the inning by getting Marco Scutaro on a fly ball to right field. Other than Kotsay’s drive in the sixth, the A’s didn’t come close to getting a baserunner until Stewart’s hit in the ninth.
Blanton was nearly as stingy as Schilling, allowing only the homer to Ortiz. The Red Sox threatened again in the seventh, putting runners on first and third with one out. But Blanton got Alex Cora to foul out and Coco Crisp on a comebacker. Blanton allowed one run and four hits in 7 1-3 innings.
Notes: Two Boston pitchers have thrown no-hitters against the A’s: Howard Ehmke on Sept. 7, 1923, and Young on May 5, 1904. … Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich threw out the ceremonial first pitch. … The A’s were looking for their first four-game sweep at home against the Red Sox since May 19-21, 1932, when they played in Philadelphia.
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