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Record Six Houston Pitchers No-Hit Yanks

June 12, 2003

NEW YORK (AP) _ For 45 years, no one had no-hit the New York Yankees. To break that streak, the Houston Astros needed a record six pitchers.

What a night for Houston’s bullpen.

And what an embarrassment for the Yankees.

After ace Roy Oswalt was injured in the second inning, Pete Munro, Kirk Saarloos, Brad Lidge, Octavio Dotel and Billy Wagner finished off the 8-0, no-hit victory Wednesday night.

``First appearance for most of us in Yankee Stadium,″ Wagner said. ``What better place could there be?″

It was the most pitchers ever to combine on a no-hitter in the majors _ four had twice done the trick. The Yankees had gone 6,980 games _ the longest streak in big league history _ without being no-hit, since Hoyt Wilhelm’s 1-0 victory for Baltimore on Sept. 20, 1958.

Since then, the proud franchise had won nine World Series titles and 15 AL pennants.

But that all ended on a muggy late-spring night. The last time New York had been held hitless at Yankee Stadium was on Aug. 25, 1952, by Detroit’s Virgil Trucks.

With Yankees’ fans standing and applauding, Wagner pumped his fist as he stepped on first base to end it. Many the Astros ran onto the field to give high-fives while the Yankees couldn’t clear out of the dugout fast enough.

``This is one of the worst games I’ve ever been involved in,″ Yankees manager Joe Torre said. ``It was a total, inexcusable performance.″

Torre called it the low point for the Yankees since he started managing the club in 1996. New York dropped out of first place in the AL East, falling a half-game behind Boston, and Torre held a team meeting after the loss.

``Tonight was an ugly, ugly performance,″ he said. ``Once things started snowballing, I think we lost our composure.″

The closest New York came to a hit was in the fifth against Saarloos, when Alfonso Soriano sent a fly ball into short left field. Lance Berkman, who hit a two-run run homer in the third, ran in, stuck out his glove and made a tumbling catch.

``It wasn’t that close,″ Berkman said. ``It probably looked more spectacular than it really was.″

Third baseman Geoff Blum made a barehanded pickup on Juan Rivera in the third ad threw him out at first.

``One guy usually goes out there and does it,″ Astros manager Jimy Williams said. ``Maybe two, but not six.″

Astros pitchers combined for 13 strikeouts, including four by Dotel in the eighth, which tied the major league record for an inning. Soriano reached when he struck out on a wild pitch.

Wagner struck out Jorge Posada and pinch-hitter Bubba Trammell to start the ninth. Wagner then got Hideki Matsui to ground to first base with one pitch to complete the Astros’ 10th no-hitter, the first since Darryl Kile against the New York Mets on Sept. 8, 1993.

This was the second no-hitter in the majors this season. Kevin Millwood pitched one for Philadelphia on April 27 against San Francisco.

And it came on the 65th anniversary of Johnny Vander Meer’s first no-hitter. The only pitcher to throw consecutive no-hitters, he started that streak on June 11, 1938, for Cincinnati against the Boston Braves.

Overall, it was the third no-hitter in a game between AL and NL teams, and all of them have been at Yankee Stadium. The other two were perfect games _ Don Larsen did it against the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1956 World Series and David Cone did it against Montreal on July 18, 1999.

Oswalt strained his right groin and left in the second. He looked toward catcher Brad Ausmus after his second pitch of the inning, his 23rd of the game, and immediately was replaced.

Oswalt originally hurt his groin May 15 while running the bases against Pittsburgh and was on the disabled list until May 31. He planned to return to Houston on Thursday for an MRI.

Munro pitched 2 2-3 innings, Saarloos 1 1-3 innings and Lidge (4-0) went two innings. Dotel threw the eighth, striking out four in an inning for only the 44th time in big league history.

``The first time to step on the Yankee Stadium mound and be part of a no-hitter is something special, something I’ll never forget,″ Saarloos said.

Dotel and Wagner combined to fan eight straight hitters before Matsui grounded out, completing Houston’s eighth win in nine games. New York, just 16-24 since its 20-4 start, looked awful throughout, with physical and mental miscues.

Jeff Weaver (3-5), repeatedly booed by the fans, appeared uncomfortable in his first start since May 31. He had been dropped from the rotation after owner George Steinbrenner wanted Jose Contreras to start, and was back only because Contreras went on the disabled list earlier this week.

Weaver gave up a double to Craig Biggio leading off the game and allowed him to score on a two-out wild pitch. Orlando Merced then tripled off Rivera’s glove in left field in the second and scored on Jose Vizcaino’s sacrifice fly. In all, Weaver allowed five runs and 10 hits.

``You have to look at the bright side,″ Weaver said. ``From here you can only go up.″

Notes: Vida Blue, Glenn Abbott, Paul Lindblad and Rollie Fingers combined for a no-hitter for Oakland against California on Sept. 28, 1975. Bob Milacki, Mike Flanagan, Mark Williamson and Gregg Olson combined for a no-hitter for Baltimore at Oakland on July 13, 1991. ... When Posada grounded out on a 3-0 pitch with the bases loaded and two outs in the third, he missed a take sign.

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