Nomo Gets No-No, Dodgers Get Lift
DENVER (AP) _ Hideo Nomo silenced the crowd as he silenced the Colorado Rockies’ bats, throwing a no-hitter in the unlikeliest of ballparks. Then he shrugged off the accomplishment.
The Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander pitched the third no-hitter of the season Tuesday night when he beat the Rockies 9-0 at Coors Field, a pitchers’ graveyard where the resident Rockies have averaged 8.3 runs and 12.6 hits a game.
Mixing fastballs and sinking split-fingers, Nomo baffled the NL’s top hitting team. He walked four and struck out eight, capping his performance by fanning Ellis Burks.
Because of a slippery mound, Nomo (16-10) pitched from the stretch from the fourth inning on, even with the bases empty.
``You may not believe me, but I’m glad we picked up the win at this time rather than I accomplished a no-hitter,″ Nomo said. ``We’re battling for the division title, so this is a big win.″
With San Diego losing, the Dodgers increased their NL West lead to 1 1/2 games with 11 to play. The loss dropped the Rockies 7 1/2 games off the pace and virtually ended their faint postseason hopes.
``Only in the ninth inning did I think I had a chance,″ the 28-year-old Japanese sensation said through an interpreter.
Asked if he thought a no-hitter would ever be thrown at Coors Field, Nomo replied: ``I cannot say it was impossible. I was never concerned about it.″
Others, however, found the feat unfathomable.
``That was huge,″ Dodgers manager Bill Russell said, ``especially to do it in Colorado. With the hitters they have over there and for Nomo to throw a no-hitter against them and to strike out Ellis Burks is a tremendous effort.″
Added Dodgers first baseman Eric Karros: ``He probably doesn’t realize how unbelievable that accomplishment is. People in Japan probably don’t know Coors Field, but I’m betting it won’t be done again.″
Rockies manager Don Baylor agreed.
``In this ballpark, that was an incredible feat,″ he said.
The start of the game was delayed two hours by rain, and although light rain fell in the first two innings, it dissipated.
``It was a little muggy and the ball didn’t carry as well as it usually does here,″ Los Angeles catcher Mike Piazza said. ``That might have helped us.″
The last game Nomo started at Coors Field, on June 30, he was battered for nine runs _ five earned _ in five innings. The Rockies stole nine bases against him in a 16-15 win.
And things began shakily Tuesday night. Nomo walked three batters in the first four innings, including the leadoff men in the second and fourth, but walked just one the rest of the way. He had five strikeouts through five innings.
The Rockies hit the ball hard, but harmlessly, several times. Vinny Castilla sent Raul Mondesi to the base of the right-field wall on a long fly in the fourth, and Mondesi hauled in Steve Decker’s slicing liner in the fifth. Nomo reached high to spear Burks’ bouncer to end the sixth.
Nomo, who struck out Dante Bichette three times, also contributed at the plate, slapping an RBI single in the eighth.
With fans in Japan watching live on television, Nomo had an easy ninth. Young and Quinton McCracken grounded to second and Burks struck out swinging.
Nomo then punched the air and a smile spread across his face as his teammates came out of the dugout to mob him. The crowd in Coors Field gave him a standing ovation.
``His demeanor never changed,″ Russell said. ``We finally got a smile out of him after the last out. He was always focused. He was serious on every pitch to every hitter.″