CHICAGO -- If this was Cole Hamels' last start with the Phillies, it was a beauty. A prime target for teams looking for starting pitching prior to Friday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, the left-hander threw a no-hitter in the Phillies' 5-0 victory over the Cubs on Saturday at Wrigley Field.
"Nothing will top winning a World Series, but this is right under it," said Hamels.
Ryan Howard belted a three-run homer off Jake Arrieta in the third to back Hamels, who struck out 13 for the 29th double-digit strikeout game of his career. How frustrated were the Cubs? When Jorge Soler struck out in the seventh, his third K of the day, he broke his bat over his knee. After all, Hamels had more hits himself -- he doubled in the eighth -- than Chicago did in the game.
"It's not what I envisioned," Hamels said, asked about this possibly being his final start for the Phillies. "It's not what I thought. It's not in my thought process. I think all I've been thinking about the past couple days was just to kind of correct my pitching, just being able to be out there and enjoy the moment.
"Just a surreal moment."
It was the third no-hitter in the Major Leagues this season (Chris Heston and Max Scherzer) and first time the Cubs have been no-hit since the Dodgers' Sandy Koufax did so on Sept. 9, 1965, throwing a perfect game in a 1-0 win. That was 7,920 games ago. The last no-hitter at Wrigley was Sept. 2, 1972 by the Cubs' Milt Pappas.
The game ended with Kris Bryant flying out to center fielder Odubel Herrera, who dove at the warning track to make the grab. It was Herrera's second hit-saving catch of the game as he robbed David Ross of a potential double in the eighth. Once the Phillies realized Herrera had caught Bryant's ball, they mobbed Hamels in the infield to celebrate. More >
"Give the credit to [Hamels] -- don't denigrate our guys," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "Credit Cole Hamels today. He pitched that well. He had everything going on. His velocity was up, his changeup is always outstanding, his curveball was there. We hit a couple balls well toward the end. They didn't fall. Under the circumstances like this, give their guy the credit." More >
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Hamels dominates, trade next?: Hamels posted a 19.89 ERA in his last two starts, and some wondered if that could affect his value before Friday's Deadline. But Hamels answered any doubts or concerns with an absolutely dominant performance. The only question for Hamels is: What's next?
"Nothing will top winning a World Series, but I think this is probably on that top list," Hamels said. "It's right under it. Being able to go out there and feel confident, executing pitches, being able to keep guys, especially the type of team I was facing." More >
Start me up: Arrieta was vying for his career-high 12th win, but instead took the loss, his first since June 16. Since that date, he had given up just five earned runs over 46 2/3 innings. Arrieta struck out eight and served up six hits Saturday, including a season-high four doubles.
"I struggled with timing," Arrieta said. "That was the main issue from start to finish. Toward the end was really the only time I felt like I had consistent command of multiple pitches. I felt like it was a battle. I didn't pitch near the way I would've liked to today. Cole was special today."
Howard's blast supports Hamels: Hamels has had some of the worst run support in baseball this season -- the Phillies had been held scoreless in 48 of his previous 53 1/3 innings on the mound -- but first baseman Howard hit a two-out, three-run home run to center field in the third inning to hand the Phils a 3-0 lead. The entire rally started with two outs as Herrera doubled and Maikel Franco walked, setting up Howard's 17th homer of the season.
Herrera saves the day: The bottom of the eighth inning was delayed because Phillies center fielder Herrera forgot his sunglasses. But he made up for it. Herrera made a spectacular running catch in left-center field for the second out, spearing Ross' line drive on the warning track. Herrera tumbled to the ground as he caught the ball, kicking up a pile of dirt in the first of two memorable defensive plays.
"I thought that the ball would either go over or hit the wall, and I wanted to be able to jump or climb or whatever I needed to do to catch it," Herrera said through translator Andres Blanco. "I didn't expect the wind to stop the ball the way it did. I didn't slide. I just dived to catch the ball." More >
"He definitely increased his value, I would imagine. You're going to get that higher-tier prospect because of that performance today. He was really good. He is really good." -- Maddon, on Hamels
"He almost gave me a heart attack." -- Phillies first-base coach and outfield instructor Juan Samuel, on Herrera's ninth-inning catch
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Hamels was part of a combined no-hitter on Sept. 1, 2014, against the Braves, as the lefty and three relievers shut down Atlanta.
This was the first time the Cubs have been no-hit at Wrigley Field since Aug. 19, 1965, in the first game of a doubleheader when the Reds' Jim Maloney did so. The Cubs had gone 49 full seasons without being no-hit, the longest span in Major League history.
WHAT'S NEXT Phillies: Rookie right-hander Aaron Nola hopes to build upon his big league debut last week against the Rays, when he allowed five hits, one run, one walk and struck out six in six innings in a 1-0 loss. Nola is ranked the No. 28 prospect in baseball, according to MLBPipeline.com. He faces the Cubs at 2:20 p.m. ET.
Cubs: Sunday will be Jason Hammel's second start since he was sidelined with a sore left hamstring. In his last outing, he did not get a decision against the Reds, giving up five hits over five innings. He has a 2.20 ERA in eight starts at Wrigley Field. First pitch is scheduled for 1:20 p.m. CT.