Bad To Worse: Houston No-Hits The Yankees

The Yankees made some more history on Wednesday night, but not the kind that they would have liked at all. Six Houston Astros pitchers combined to throw a no-hitter against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium, putting an exclamation point on an already sub-par season for New York. The Astros put eight runs against Jeff Weaver and the Yankees' bullpen, but only one was necessary as they won 8-0.

The six pitchers were the most ever used to pitch a no-hitter, breaking the previous record of four.

In the bottom of the second inning, the Yankees looked like they had caught a break. Roy Oswalt, Houston's ace starter, was forced to leave the game with a 1-1 count on Jorge Posada. Oswalt injured his groin on his last pitch to Posada and left the game after recording just three outs. Oswalt is the Astros' best starter by a good margin, and with him out of the picture the Yankees' chances looked better.

But one can't underestimate the power of Houston's bullpen.

Pete Munro relieved Oswalt and finished the second inning. In the third inning, the Yankees managed to load the bases without registering a hit. Alfonso Soriano reached on Houston third baseman Geoff Blum's fielding error, then stole second. Derek Jeter walked, and Jason Giambi was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Posada.

Posada worked Munro into a 3-0 count, then hit a soft grounder to first base to end the inning, the threat, and any chance the Yankees had of scoring in the game.

As the Yankees found themselves without a hit after six innings, they also found themselves in a 4-0 hole. Houston had scored in the first inning on a wild pitch by Jeff Weaver – starting in place of the injured Jose Contreras. They added a second run in the second on a sacrifice fly, and in the third inning Lance Berkman launched a towering two-run homerun into the upper deck.

But the pain was still coming for the Yankees. Reliever Brad Lidge, Houston's fourth pitcher, struck out the last two batters of the seventh inning to keep the no-no intact. Octavio Dotel came on to pitch the eighth, and tied a major-league record by striking out four Yankees in the inning. Dotel fanned Juan Rivera, Alfonso Soriano – who reached on a wild pitch, Derek Jeter and Jason Giambi to put his name in the record books.

Houston's bullpen wasn't done yet. In the ninth inning manager Jimy Williams called on his closer, Billy Wagner, to finish off the staggered Yankees. Wagner fanned Posada and Bubba Trammell on 100-mph pitches to complete an eight-batter streak of strikeouts, and then got Hideki Matsui to ground out to first to end the game.

Kirk Saarloos was the Astros' other pitcher involved in the no-hit parade. Saarloos pitched 1 1/3 innings.

New York's closest thing to a hit was a hard-hit ball off the bat of Alfonso Soriano to left field. Berkman broke in and caught the ball about six inches off the ground to record the out and preserve the pitching gem.

Lidge (4-0) was credited with the victory. He threw two innings of hitless ball, striking out two batters.

Weaver (3-5) took the loss. He lasted 6 1/3 innings, allowing five runs on ten hits and a walk while striking out just two batters.

David Wells looks to right the ship Thursday afternoon for the Yankees at 1:05 pm. The good news for the Yankees is that they have nowhere to go but up, and they can still win this series. Jeriome Robertson takes the hill for Houston, trying to win the series for his team.

Notes: The last combined no-hitter was thrown in 1997 against Houston, ironically, by Francisco Cordova and Ricardo Rincon of Pittsburgh … The Yankees hadn't been no-hit since September 20, 1958, when Hoyt Wilhelm led the Baltimore Orioles over New York 1-0.

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