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Rookie Sanchez beats Colorado with a no-hitter



Published: Thu, September 7, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



He benefited from three defensive gems in the 2-0 victory.

MIAMI (AP) -- Anibal Sanchez was standing behind the mound when the scoreboard caught his eye, confirming what he already knew: He was one out from a no-hitter.

He froze. For a couple of seconds, the Florida Marlins' rookie didn't move.

"I said, 'Wow. This hitter is the last one,' " Sanchez said.

Then he collected himself and, in this year of sensational rookies, finished up the best performance yet.

The 22-year-old Venezuelan brought the longest period without a no-hitter in major league history to a close Wednesday night, benefiting from three defensive gems by teammates to lead the Marlins over the Arizona Diamondbacks 2-0.

"This is the best moment of my life," Sanchez said. "You never think that's going to happen."

Walked four

Sanchez (7-2) walked four and pitched around an error. He struck out six and threw 103 pitches in his 13th career start.

Sanchez finished it off in quick fashion in the ninth. He struck out Conor Jackson swinging on a 1-2 pitch, got Luis Gonzalez to pop out to third, then retired Eric Byrnes on a sharp grounder to shortstop Hanley Ramirez, who fielded the ball carefully on one knee before throwing to first for the out.

"The last ground ball, I wasn't going to flub that," said Ramirez, another rookie. "It wasn't going to get past me."

Before Ramirez even threw the ball, third baseman Miguel Cabrera began sprinting toward Sanchez and was the first to arrive with a hug. Players poured out of the Marlins dugout en masse and swarmed around the pitcher, with the jubilant mob collectively hopping as one between the mound and third base.

"That was a lot of bouncing," said Wes Helms, who caught Ramirez's throw for the final out. "It's once-in-a-lifetime for a lot of people."

Ride off the field

Sanchez' teammates then hoisted him on their shoulders.

"The most special moment was his face and how proud he was -- and exhausted," left fielder Josh Willingham said.

It was the first no-hitter in the majors since Arizona's Randy Johnson threw a perfect game to beat Atlanta 2-0 on May 18, 2004.

Sanchez's performance ended a stretch of 6,364 major-league games between no-hitters. The longest gap previously was 4,015 games from Sept. 30, 1984, to Sept. 16, 1986, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The most recent no-hitter by a rookie was by Bud Smith of St. Louis, who beat San Diego 4-0 Sept. 1, 2001.

The Diamondbacks came close to a hit several times, but were denied by a Marlins defense that ranks next-to-last in the NL.

"When I sat on the bench in the eighth, I thought, 'This is my day,"' Sanchez said.

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.




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