No-hitter duel amazing to watch unfold
Lilly, Floyd offer Chicago a rare pitching battle
CHICAGO -- Somewhere around the fifth inning of Sunday's 1-0 victory for the Cubs over the White Sox, Gavin Floyd looked up at the Wrigley Field scoreboard and noticed something strange.
"I remember both teams hitting some balls hard, but I really wasn't paying that close of attention," Floyd said. "Then, in I think the fifth inning, I just happened to look up at the scoreboard and there weren't any hits."
And what was Floyd's reaction to this rarity?
"Kind of neat," said Floyd with a smile. "But I was hoping we could get some hits."
Floyd's hope almost didn't come to fruition.
Ted Lilly, the Cubs' starter and Floyd's counterpart on the mound, took a no-hitter into the ninth inning, before Juan Pierre came off the bench to launch a solid single to center. Floyd, meanwhile, took a no-hitter into the seventh, which held up for two outs, and then evaporated on Alfonso Soriano's full-count double lined down the left-field line.
Chad Tracy's ensuing single to center scored the only run of the contest.
For a baseball purist, this game was a dream. Great pitching, and stellar defense, on display before the game's first hit in the seventh, in fact, when White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski nailed Derrek Lee trying to advance to second on a wild pitch with one out. Cubs third baseman Chad Tracy also chipped in with nice glovework behind Lilly.
To be part of a double no-hitter, well, that occurrence was strange even for the most seasoned of baseball veterans.
"Both pitchers really pitched well," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "I've never seen two no-hitters like that going into the seventh inning."
Members of the White Sox agreed with Piniella.
"Kind of crazy," Pierre said. "I was just sitting there watching as it was unfolding. It was fun to watch, with both guys battling and the defense making plays behind them."
"I've seen no-hitters before," said Pierzynski, who caught Mark Buehrle's no-hitter against Texas in 2007. "But to have both guys doing it was pretty amazing. Both guys were great. Gavin was the best he's been in a long time. Lilly matched him pitch for pitch."
These two pitchers came up short of another mark. The longest a Cubs game has gone without either team registering a hit was one out in the top of the 10th. On May 2, 1917, Cincinnati's Fred Toney and the Cubs' Hippo Vaughn matched no-hit innings until the 10th when Vaughn gave up two hits and one run. Toney completed the no-hitter to give the Reds a 1-0 victory.
On Sunday, the much-needed, hard-earned 1-0 victory belonged to the Cubs. Floyd and the White Sox emerged as tough-luck losers.
"That was a fun game for everyone," said Floyd, who threw 109 pitches, compared to Lilly's total of 108. "It was an intense game all the way to the end."
"It's a fun thing. I remember so much about Z's [Carlos Zambrano's no-hitter thrown against the Astros in Milwaukee in 2008) and how exciting it was," Lilly said. "I would have really loved to have gotten this accomplished for my team and for the city."
Fans might be wondering what White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen was thinking about during this double-zip job. After all, he is the most quotable man in Chicago, usually adding informative and entertaining commentary to any situation.
Well, Guillen took a bigger picture view of how great this day was for the entire city of Chicago, with the Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks making a pregame on-field appearance. He also thought about the oddity where two teams had no-hitters in the seventh, but realized the strong likelihood of one coming to an end.
"Someone had to score," Guillen said.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.