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Ritchie Doesn’t Fold as No-Hitter Fizzles

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From Associated Press

Todd Ritchie had one thought after losing his no-hitter in the ninth inning--to make sure he didn’t lose the game too.

He didn’t, pitching a one-hit shutout as the Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the skidding Kansas City Royals, 1-0, Friday night on Aramis Ramirez’s run-scoring single against a drawn-in infield in the bottom of the ninth.

Ritchie (6-9) came tantalizingly close to the Pirates’ first nine-inning no-hitter in 25 years, but Luis Alicea singled cleanly into right field with one out in the ninth.

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“Sure, I was disappointed, but it still was an 0-0 game,” Ritchie said. “I didn’t have time to feel sorry for myself. My main concern right there was making sure we still won the game.”

Ritchie didn’t lose his concentration, immediately getting Rey Sanchez to ground into an inning-ending double play. The right-hander struck out six and didn’t walk a batter in his second consecutive 1-0 victory at PNC Park. He pitched seven shutout innings in defeating Milwaukee on June 28.

The Royals wasted Chad Durbin’s eight shutout innings in losing their ninth in a row, their third such streak in three seasons. “He threw it pretty well, but we’re obviously not swinging the bats real good right now,” Brent Mayne said.

Ritchie’s no-hit bid was one of the most improbable in the majors in recent seasons. He began the season 0-8--the worst start by a starting pitcher in Pirate history--and didn’t win until defeating Detroit, 13-3, on June 12. He can’t remember pitching more than four or five no-hit innings even in the minors.

“I’ll remember this the rest of my life,” Ritchie said. “It’s probably the most excitement I’ve ever felt on a baseball field. The way the crowd was reacting and the way the game was going, I was getting chills at times.”

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