LOS ANGELES -- Giants left-hander Matt Moore was denied baseball immortality Thursday, but not satisfaction.
One out away from recording the 18th no-hitter in the franchise's illustrious pitching history, Moore lost his place in the pantheon of Mathewson, Marichal, Cain and Lincecum when Los Angeles rookie Corey Seager blooped a single to right field. Moore had barely retreated to the dugout when Santiago Casilla retired Justin Turner on one pitch to end the Giants' 4-0 victory. For Moore, however, the joy had just begun to wash over him.
Moore felt complete even without the complete game, or the no-hitter. He scraped the ceiling of his skill, which is an endeavor all accomplished athletes doggedly repeat.
"It was just fun," the 27-year-old Moore said after his first Giants victory. "That's one of the things that everybody says to each other on the way out to the field -- 'Have fun.' At times, it's hard to actually enjoy yourself. So today, it was about as close as it comes to being able to have fun with it."
For professionals, however, fun is typically defined as winning, and vice versa. According to catcher Buster Posey, whose presence on three World Series-winning Giants ballclubs qualifies him to judge competitive spirit, Moore arrived at Dodger Stadium prepared to enjoy himself by sawing Los Angeles' bats in half.
"It seemed like he had that focus, that in-the-zone look about him today," Posey said. "That's what you look for from one of your horses."
On this night, Moore the thoroughbred could have handled a six-furlong sprint or a race around two turns. His fastball reached the mid-90-mph range, and his offspeed pitches befuddled the Dodgers, who also lost to him on July 27, days before the Giants acquired him from the Rays at the non-waiver Trade Deadline.
Moore certainly wanted the no-hitter. But the thrill of competing was a nice consolation prize for him. When an interrogator referred to Seager's hit as "aggravating," Moore said, "I wouldn't say it was aggravating. Just in general, being out there for the ninth inning, having the opportunity for a complete game, that's what starting pitchers want."
Manager Bruce Bochy saw this desire on Moore's face when he consulted the hurler before the ninth inning. Conscious of taxing Moore's arm about 28 months after he underwent Tommy John elbow surgery, Bochy didn't want to invite a physical breakdown. But Moore would not be broken.
"He said, 'I'm telling you, I couldn't feel better,'" Bochy said. "So I gave him that ninth inning."
Bochy saw the fire in Moore's face even after Seager's hit.
"To be that close, you would think he would just be so disappointed. But he was smiling," Bochy said. "I think he savored the moment of having the chance [to throw a no-hitter]."
Besides, Moore doesn't consider himself damaged goods.
"I'm to the point now with the injury where I really focus on the things I learned from it," he said, "as opposed to the dark side of being out a year and a half."
Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.