Moyer flirts with no-no, settles for win

Moyer flirts with no-no, settles for win

PHILADELPHIA -- The good omen first surfaced in the fourth, when Jayson Werth's lunging snare of Miguel Cabrera's liner turned into an inning-ending double play and preserved Jamie Moyer's developing no-hitter.

Though just 12 batters old, it caused the 45,107 at Citizens Bank Park to stir. Could Moyer, at 44 years, 162 days, become the oldest pitcher to toss a no-hitter? After all, the veteran had breezed through a perfect late April Sunday afternoon, pitching with the experience of a 21-year Major League veteran, and making the Marlins' hitters look uncomfortable in a game the Phillies won, 6-1.

"That's the cat's meow," Moyer said. "If you're a pitcher, that's what you're looking for. I was aware. You could sense it from the crowd. I still haven't figured out where the smaller scoreboards are [at Citizens Bank Park]. I had to check the count a few times, and saw there were a bunch of zeroes up there."

That's when Moyer realized he hadn't surrendered a hit. When Cabrera broke up Moyer's bid with two outs in the seventh with a liner over the glove of third baseman Abraham Nunez -- would Wes Helms, who's five inches taller, have caught it? -- it was disappointing, yet appropriate. Moyer took in the applause and finished the inning.

After Moyer surrendered his second hit and a walk in the eighth, Brett Myers and Antonio Alfonseca finished off the win over the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park, giving the Phillies momentum after a 5-2 homestand.

A no-hitter on this day would have been deja vu for many Phillies players and fans who remember April 27, 2003, when Kevin Millwood no-hit the Giants. On that day four years ago, the Phillie Phanatic also celebrated his birthday, and this year did it with an Egyptian flair.

Millwood's game featured an outstanding catch and a big hit (a first-inning home run) from part-time outfielder Ricky Ledee. Moyer's effort received support of a great catch a big hit (a two-out, two-run, bases-loaded single in the sixth) by part-time outfielder Werth.

"I thought I had it, and it kept sailing away from me," Werth said of the catch. "I didn't know if I was going to catch it or not. I snow-coned it, and made sure I didn't run into the wall and drop it."

Millwood's no-hitter came on a getaway day (a Sunday) before the Phillies began a three-city West Coast road trip that ended with three games in Arizona. Moyer's potential no-hitter came as the Phillies' set out on a three-city road trip that concludes against the Diamondbacks -- in Arizona.

"I have no idea what you are talking about, so no deja vu," Jimmy Rollins said, with a laugh. "I thought about it. I thought, 'Millwood threw a no-hitter on the Phanatic's birthday.' Good things happen on his birthday. We'll have to play more often on his birthday."

Philadelphia got its first run when Rollins singled, stole second and scored on Chase Utley's first-inning single. Werth, starting in place of Pat Burrell, drove in runs two and three with a bases-loaded single in the sixth.

Moyer, a spectator for Nolan Ryan's sixth no-hitter, on June 11, 1990, also collected two hits -- as many as he allowed. It was his first two-hit game since Aug. 15, 1987, against the Mets. As he had faced the minimum 18 batters through the sixth, players avoided talking to the lefty and manager Charlie Manuel refused to think about it.

"I wasn't going to say anything," Manuel said.

"[Moyer] was cool, just like always," Nunez said. "He's going to concentrate. He was cheering for us on the field and on the bench, like normal."

As for Moyer, the silence was fine.

"I usually don't talk, anyway," he said. "When we score runs, I don't shake hands, because I'm trying to stay focused on what my responsibility is. You can shake hands after we win."

Sitting in the dugout during a long sixth inning may have contributed to his losing the bid in the seventh, when a Marlins team that had gotten a hit in every inning of the first two games of the series, finally got its first of the day.

Moyer missed on a 2-1 fastball to Cabrera and didn't want to give in at 3-1 because, as he said, "that's when you start to get defensive." Cabrera took advantage of Nunez's stature and lined one over the 5-foot-11 third baseman.

"Next time, I'll need high heels," Nunez said, who had once been a part of Todd Ritchie's near no-hitter while with the Pirates. "When Cabrera came up, I looked at Jimmy, and he was talking to Chase. They were [signaling] slow runner, so I backed up to the cut of the grass. If I had been in left field. I would've caught it."

"It's the pitch I wanted to make," Moyer said. "He popped that same pitch up in the first inning."

In typical fashion, Moyer was miffed that he walked two hitters, but he'll take the results. If he keeps pitching like this, he'll pitch until he's 50 and get that no-hitter eventually.

"A lot of things have to go your way for that to be accomplished," he said. "I don't expect that. Before the game, I say, 'I'd like to throw a shutout, but a no-hitter with my stuff? No way.'"

Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.