Those who criticize Nolan Ryan point out that he has been only a little better than a .500 pitcher in his long and illustrious career.
They say he qualifies for the Hall of Fame only because he has struck out more batters than any pitcher in history and has pitched five no-hitters.
Nonsense. He undoubtedly qualifies as one of the unluckiest. Take Wednesday night at Houston.
With one out in the ninth, a looping single to center by Mike Schmidt of the Philadelphia Phillies ended Ryan's bid for his sixth no-hitter.
Ryan, whose five no-hitters are a major league record, went nine innings, struck out nine and didn't give up an earned run, but still didn't get the victory.
That's the way his luck runs.
An error by Bill Doran on Greg Gross' grounder preceded Schmidt's single. With two out, Lance Parrish doubled in two runs to tie the game, 2-2.
The Astros eventually won, 3-2, in the 10th when Glenn Davis raced home on a grounder by Craig Reynolds, but it was an inning too late for the 41-year-old fireballer. This no-hit bid came on the fifth anniversary of the date he broke Walter Johnson's strikeout record.
It was the fifth consecutive strong game for Ryan, but he has only two victories. It was the same way last season. Because of an elbow problem, the Astros would let Ryan throw only 110 pitches per start last season. The limit and lack of hitting by his teammates made it a frustrating season for Ryan.
Although he had 270 strikeouts in 211 innings and led the majors with a 2.76 earned-run average, Ryan had only an 8-16 record.
There seems to be a tendency for Ryan's teammates to stand in awe of his many tremendous performances and forget to score runs for him. In 19 of his starts last season the Astros failed to score more than two runs while he was on the mound.
His lifetime record is 263-243, and he has spent most of his 20-year career pitching for losing teams.
Ryan's last no-hitter was against the Dodgers Sept. 26, 1981. It broke a tie for most no-hitters with Sandy Koufax.
If he had pitched his sixth no-hitter in this game, it still would not have made him the oldest to throw a no-hitter. Cy Young threw one when he was 41 and three months, a few days older than Ryan is now.
Montreal 1, Cincinnati 0--Pascual Perez has been telling everyone that he is twice as good a pitcher as he was last season when he was almost perfect.
People may start listening after this performance at Montreal when he won a tight battle from Mario Soto and the Cincinnati Reds.
Perez pitched the first two-hitter of his career and needed it to beat Soto, who pitched a six-hitter. Two of the hits came in the third inning, the first, an opposite-field triple by Tim Raines, who scored on Hubie Brooks' single to center.
Once a prized prospect of the Atlanta Braves, Perez made a comeback late last season with the Expos, winning seven in a row.
Although he is only 3-2 this season, both defeats came in games in which the Expos didn't score a run. This was his first complete game, but Perez has pitched into the seventh in each outing and has given up only 8 runs in 33 innings.
Perez struck out 10 and did not allow a runner past second. It was the Expos' second complete game this season. Dennis Martinez had the other.
New York 5, Atlanta 2--Some questionable strategy, another Keith Hernandez home run and some horrible pitching from the bullpen combined to deal the Braves another defeat at Atlanta.
Zane Smith held the Mets to four hits and had a 2-0 lead when Manager Chuck Tanner brought in Bruce Sutter to pitch the eighth. It was surprising that Smith came out at that time, because Sutter, struggling in his comeback, pitches only one inning a game.
Tanner brought in Paul Assenmacher to pitch the ninth. A walk and Hernandez's third home run in two games tied the score. The winning run was walked in by Charlie Puleo, and Mookie Wilson singled home two more to make it a 5-run inning.
St. Louis 2, San Diego 1--Tom Brunansky hit his first National League home run to break a scoreless tie in the fifth at San Diego, then scored the eventual winning run in the seventh on rookie Luis Alicea's single.
It was the fifth consecutive well-pitched game by the Padres, although it ended their string of scoreless innings at 37 and their 4-game winning streak. Padre pitchers have thrown three shutouts and given up only two earned runs in their last 45 innings.
Jimmy Jones, who started the string by beating Nolan Ryan and Houston Friday, 3-1, allowed only one earned run to the Cardinals.
Brunansky, recently obtained from Minnesota in the Tommy Herr deal, reached on an error to start the winning rally.
It was only the second win in 10 road games for the Cardinals.
San Francisco 6, Pittsburgh 4--Kevin Mitchell drove in the leadoff hitter three times at San Francisco and the Giants ended the Pirates' 4-game winning streak.
Dave Dravecky, who hadn't won in three starts since throwing a shutout on opening day against the Dodgers, gave up nine hits in eight innings, but improved his record to 2-1.
Butler, signed as a free agent by the Giants to solve the weakness at the top of the order, has been on base in 11 straight games and 18 out of 20.
His first three times up he had a walk, a bunt single and a double. Each time Mitchell, batting .375 with runners on base, drove him home.
Bobby Bonilla caused most of the trouble for Dravecky. He went 4 for 4, including his seventh home run and raised his average to .355.