ATLANTA -- The scoreboard registered a hit in the Atlanta first inning when Nick Markakis reached on what was originally ruled an infield single, but in the top of the seventh, it was changed to an error by Cubs rookie third baseman Kris Bryant. That meant Jon Lester had a no-hitter through six innings.
"I got a little nervous," Cubs catcher David Ross said. "Markakis came up [in the seventh] and said, 'Have you ever seen anything like that?'"
The Cubs left-hander didn't notice the scoring change until he was in the on-deck circle in the eighth.
"I noticed it, but didn't pay attention to it," Lester said. "I didn't really understand what was going on or why they changed it or what happened or why it took so long."
Cubs manager Joe Maddon saw the scoreboard updated from the dugout.
"I really thought when [the call first] occurred that it could be changed at some point during the game," Maddon said. "My reaction was that makes my mindset different. [Lester] could have 120 pitches going into the ninth inning and with the no-hitter, he's going back out there."
Let's go back to the Braves first. With two outs, Markakis hit a ball that bounced past Bryant at third. Official scorer Jack Wilkinson called it single, but in the top of the seventh, announced that the call had been changed to an error.
"He normally makes that play," Maddon said of Bryant. "The degree of difficulty from the Russian judge was very low at that point. He makes that play. A lot of third basemen make that play. He just miscalculated."
When the play happened, Lester said he didn't think about whether it was a hit or not. He had to finish the inning and there was a runner on first.
"It's a tough play," Lester said. "You could see [Bryant] get caught in between on what he wanted to do. He wanted to come in and wanted to stay back. I know Markakis isn't the fastest guy in the world, but he gets down the line pretty well.
"That's one of those plays that can go either way," Lester said. "I figured because it was hometown, it could go as a hit. I wasn't surprised to see a hit go up there. I was more surprised that it ended up getting changed. I figured that's how it was."
Markakis was puzzled.
"I don't know how many years of baseball I've been playing, but I've never seen that before," Markakis said of the scoring change. "I'm sure he has good reasoning, I'd like to hear it maybe. But it's an unfortunate situation, unfortunate it got changed five innings later when he's got a no-hitter going. But you have to put those things behind you and move on."
So, what happened?
"From the time that I made the call to begin with, I was having second thoughts, and I thought, 'Wait a minute, that's not an infield hit, that's an error,'" Wilkinson said. "As the game went on, I was not even aware for I don't know how many innings that there was a no-hitter at stake here. I kept thinking, 'I don't think I made the right call on that.'"
Cubs media relations director Peter Chase approached Wilkinson during the game, and asked if he would review the play.
"I was happy to," Wilkinson said. "I was having second thoughts right after I called it."
Wilkinson said he didn't look at video because he "remembered the play very clearly."
"I just wanted to make the right call," Wilkinson said. "It wasn't that I was thinking or saying to myself, 'Oh my God, this guy's got a no-hitter going. I could've blown this for him.'"
Lester does have a no-hitter to his credit, doing so May 19, 2008, with the Red Sox in a 7-0 win over the Royals.