The drama ended early Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium.
Zack Greinke's bid for a perfect game was over when he gave up a second-inning single.
So the Dodgers' dugout was devoid of the superstitions and don't-spoil-the-no-hitter behavior present during most of their previous two games.
But Greinke gave another winning performance in a 6-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds that featured Andre Ethier's solo home run and three-run triple.
Greinke's impressive outing was the latest by a member of a five-man rotation that appears to be rounding into one of the best in the National League.
Greinke, left-handers Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu and veterans Josh Beckett and Dan Haren all appear to be physically sound at the same time for perhaps the first time this season.
“Hopefully, we're at that point where we can keep these guys together, keep them in line, keep them on turn and then just basically just keep giving us a chance to win every day,” Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly said before the game.
After Beckett's no-hitter at Philadelphia on Sunday and Ryu's flirtation with a perfect game Monday night against the Reds, the Dodgers entered Tuesday's game with a 3.50 ERA, seventh in the National League.
Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said that watching Beckett chase and finish a no-hitter and Ryu complete seven perfect innings on consecutive days produced “kind of a buzz in your gut.”
But history aside, Honeycutt was pleased on another level.
“No-hitters and perfect games you don't anticipate,” he said. “We just look for consistency.”
Greinke has been the model.
The right-hander, who is earning about $26 million this season, gave up three runs and eight hits and had 11 strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings to improve his record to 8-1, with a 2.18 earned-run average. He didn't walk a batter.
“Kind of typical Zack,” Mattingly said. “It's just kind of every time out.”
It marked the first time the 30-year-old Greinke gave up more than two runs in a regular-season start since last July. He had allowed two or fewer runs in 22 consecutive regular-season starts, the longest streak in the major leagues since 1914.
Greinke compared his experiences in Kansas City, where the staff gave up lots of runs, to the present Dodgers staff.
“All you ever see is giving up runs, you start to think it's really hard to get outs,” Greinke said. “And then you're on a team where everyone's pitching really good and you think that's how it should be and you start to think more confidently.”
Next up: staff ace Kershaw.
The Dodgers have staked their future on — and committed $215 million to — to the 26-year-old from Texas.
Kershaw, who won the National League Cy Young Award in 2011 and 2013, was sidelined for about six weeks because of a back injury, but he has been effective since his return.
He enters Wednesday's start against the Reds with a 3-1 record and 3.49 ERA with 37 strikeouts in 28 1/3 innings. But even Kershaw will be hard-pressed to match Beckett and Ryu's most recent outings.
Beckett, who is earning $17 million this season, pitched the first no-hitter of his career, the Dodgers' first since 1996.
Beckett, 34, had surgery to remove a rib last July and he acknowledged Monday that there were times last season and during his rehabilitation that his career was in jeopardy. But his no-hitter improved his record to 3-1 and lowered his ERA to 2.43.
Ryu, 27, who is earning $4.3 million, was on the disabled list because of shoulder inflammation but he was impressive when he returned against the New York Mets last week and stellar in Monday night's victory.
Haren, 33, who signed a free-agent contract for $10 million in November, is 5-3 with a 3.16 ERA.
“You roll as your starters go,” Honeycutt said. “When they’re consistent the team is able to kind of feed off that and that’s when you start making some strides toward more wins.”
Tuesday’s victory improved the Dodgers’ record to 29-24, keeping them in second place in the NL West.
“We’re getting the rotation pretty much at the point where you feel, more than anything, that they’re getting into their rhythm a little bit,” Honeycutt said. “Each time you see them not only get stronger but go deeper [into games]. And that’s where you hope it will continue.”Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times