Mets Again Flirt With a No-Hitter

From Associated Press

Shawn Estes looked at the scoreboard in the fourth inning and thought to himself that maybe this would be the day the New York Mets broke their 41-year no-hit jinx.

Vance Wilson vowed not to rehearse his no-hit speech too early this time. Jeromy Burnitz felt fortunate to watch another dominating pitching performance.

For the second consecutive game, the New York Mets flirted with a no-hitter and fell short. Pedro Astacio didn’t give up a hit until Geoff Jenkins lined a single to left field with one out in the seventh inning Saturday at New York, and the Mets beat the Milwaukee Brewers, 2-1.


“It can happen,” Astacio said. “We have to keep pitching well and we’ll keep winning ballgames. I don’t think anybody is worried about a no-hitter. We’re just trying to win.”

Less than 24 hours after Estes retired the first 18 Brewers and pitched the 19th complete-game one-hitter for the Mets, Astacio nearly topped him.

“I thought maybe this could be the day,” Estes said. “I told [pitching coach] Charlie Hough before the game that it’s going to happen this year. We’ve got guys who are capable of doing it.”

But no one ever has with the Mets. Not Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan, Dwight Gooden or David Cone -- among the many great Mets pitchers who didn’t pitch a no-hitter until after leaving the team.

The Mets, who have played 6,374 games, are among only five major league teams that have never thrown a no-hitter, joined by four younger teams: San Diego, Colorado, Arizona and Tampa Bay.

“We have the staff to do it,” said Wilson, who acknowledged practicing his post-game speech in the fifth inning Friday. “Any of the five guys can do it. If we keep at it, we probably will.”


Astacio (4-1) gave up one run and three hits in eight innings. He walked one and struck out two. Armando Benitez pitched the ninth for his seventh save.

With chants of “Pedro! Pedro!” ringing throughout Shea Stadium at the start of the seventh inning, Astacio retired Mark Loretta on a lineout to right field.

Jenkins then lined a clean single to left. Astacio walked behind the mound as the crowd of 35,105 gave a standing ovation. The Brewers were one of 46 in the series before the hit.

After Jenkins’ single, Astacio walked Matt Stairs, but then the right-hander induced a double-play grounder by Tyler Houston to get out of the inning.

The Mets took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Roberto Alomar led off with a double and scored on a two-out single by Burnitz against Nick Neugebauer (1-3).

Wilson had a run-scoring double in the sixth inning.

Cincinnati 8, San Francisco 4--Jose Rijo made his first Cinergy Field start in seven years and put on another nostalgic show, pitching six innings in a steady rain to help the Reds win at Cincinnati in a game called in the middle of the eighth.

The Reds’ seventh consecutive victory kept them in first place in the NL Central, a major surprise that pales alongside Rijo’s renaissance.

Rijo, who turns 37 next month, has come full circle in his comeback from five elbow operations. The right-hander made his second start in a week and got his second victory, giving 22,616 fans a few glimpses of the Rijo of old.

He gave up five hits and two runs in six innings, his longest Cinergy Field appearance since May 22, 1995. Corky Miller and Adam Dunn each hit two-run homers against Ryan Jensen (1-2) and the Reds pulled ahead, 8-0, before Rijo gave up a hit. Miller later doubled home two more runs, matching his career high of four runs batted in.

Colorado 8, Philadelphia 6--Todd Helton hit a bases-loaded triple at Denver and the Rockies improved to 2-0 under new Manager Clint Hurdle. Colorado had lost five in a row and was 6-16 before Buddy Bell was fired as manager Friday.

Shawn Chacon (2-3) gave up two earned runs, five hits and five walks in 51/3 innings. He also drove in a run. Jose Jimenez pitched the ninth for his sixth save in six chances. He struck out Travis Lee with the bases loaded to end it.

Larry Walker put the Rockies ahead, 3-1, with a two-run homer in the third.

St. Louis 5, Montreal 0--Reliever Mike Matthews combined with three St. Louis pitchers on a five-hitter at Montreal.

Eduardo Perez hit a solo homer in the fourth inning against Bruce Chen (2-1). Placido Polanco’s run-scoring double keyed a four-run fifth. Chen, making his first start this season, left after giving up three consecutive hits to begin the fifth.

Houston 6, Atlanta 3--Gregg Zaun drove in four runs with a double and a triple to lead the Astros at Atlanta. Zaun, who was two for 27 against the Braves before Saturday, ended a 2-2 tie in the fifth with a three-run double against Kevin Millwood (2-3) and had a run-scoring triple in the ninth against Darren Holmes.

Florida 6, Arizona 3--Playing in right field for the first time since 1997, Cliff Floyd had three hits, two RBIs and scored twice from first base on a double to lead the Marlins at Miami.

San Diego at Pittsburgh--The game was postponed because of rain and rescheduled as part of a doubleheader today.



*--* Rijo Grand Cincinnati right-hander Jose Rijo continued his amazing comeback Saturday, making his first start at Cinergy Field since 1995 and pitching six strong innings in the Reds’ 8-4 victory over San Francisco. Rijo, who turns 37 on May 13, didn’t pitch in the major leagues for five seasons because of arm trouble, undergoing elbow surgery five times. A look at his statistics since his comeback in 2001 and for his career, which started with the New York Yankees in 1984: IP H ER HR BB SO W-L ERA 2001-02 36 35 8 3 13 22 2-0 2.00 Career 1,820 1,640 636 136 652 1,580 113-87 3.15


*--* RIVALRY RENEWED The Giants’ Barry Bonds had a double in two at-bats Saturday against Rijo but has struggled against him in his career. In the 1990 National League championship series, Bonds, then with Pittsburgh, was held hitless in six at-bats by Rijo--in his third season with the Reds--and finished the series batting .167 with one RBI. The Reds went on to win the World Series, with Rijo winning two games and being selected most valuable player AB H 2B HR RBI BB SO BA Slg Bonds vs. Rijo* 37 8 3 1 3 8 11 216 378 *Not including postseason