SEATTLE (AP) — Mariners catcher Jesus Montero ran around with his arms in the air looking for someone to join in the party.
After the final out of an odd no-hitter pitched by Kevin Millwood and five Seattle relievers, nobody was quite sure how to celebrate.
“I think we all took a second and looked around and were like, did that really happen — and what do we do now?” shortstop Brendan Ryan said.
Yes, the Mariners pitched the fourth no-hitter of the major league season Friday night and by far the most unconventional.
Millwood left after six innings with a groin injury and a stream of Seattle relievers continued to hold the Dodgers in check until Tom Wilhelmsen closed out a 1-0 win over Los Angeles for his third save.
Seattle’s six-pack of arms joined the Mets’ Johan Santana, the Angels’ Jered Weaver and White Sox right-hander Philip Humber on the no-hit list of 2012. It was the second no-hitter at Safeco Field this season after Humber’s perfect game against the Mariners in April — the first two in the park’s 13-year history.
The six pitchers tied the record for the most used in a no-hitter and each played an important role, from Charlie Furbush quickly entering the game after Millwood left in the seventh to Brandon League finding the nasty splitter that had eluded him in recent weeks to Wilhelmsen being so oblivious that teammates had to tell him he just completed a no-hitter.
“He was surprised,” Montero said. “He didn’t know. ... I jumped on him and I was like, ‘Hey, it’s a no-hitter!’ And he went, ‘What?!” And then he was so happy after that. He was so focused on the game. That’s what happened.”
It was less than two months ago that the Mariners were standing stunned while Humber and the White Sox celebrated on the Safeco Field mound. This time, it was the Mariners’ turn to bounce around.
Exactly a week after Santana pitched the first no-hitter in Mets history, Millwood cruised through six innings, giving up only a walk. But after throwing his first warmup pitch for the seventh he felt a twinge in his groin and was pulled.
Seattle’s bullpen finished the no-hitter when Wilhelmsen retired Andre Ethier on a routine grounder to second base that ended a 1-2-3 ninth inning.
The Dodgers nearly got a hit when speedy Dee Gordon led off the ninth with a slow roller to shortstop. Ryan, who had just entered as a defensive replacement, charged in and fired to first, where umpire Ted Barrett called Gordon out on a bang-bang play.
Gordon and manager Don Mattingly argued. Replays were inconclusive.
Elian Herrera then lined out to Ryan before Ethier’s grounder ended the first no-hitter for the Mariners since Chris Bosio shut down Boston on April 22, 1993. Seattle’s other no-hitter was thrown by Randy Johnson against Detroit on June 2, 1990.
It was the 10th combined no-hitter in big league history and the first since six Astros accomplished the feat at Yankee Stadium on June 11, 2003. Roy Oswalt started that game for Houston but left two pitches into the second inning with a strained right groin.
“I’m excited for all these guys that came in the game out of the bullpen and kept it going. It’s a little bit more exciting for those guys when they can be a part of it,” Millwood said.
The 37-year-old Millwood, who spent much of last season in the minors, threw a no-hitter all his own for the Philadelphia Phillies against San Francisco on April 27, 2003. And this combined no-hitter was no ordinary feat: The Dodgers entered with the best record in the majors and the second-highest batting average in the National League.
“This was a lot better than having it against you, that’s for sure,” said Seager, whose brother Corey was selected by the Dodgers in the first round of Monday’s amateur draft.
Millwood pulled himself out after throwing one warmup pitch before the seventh. It was later announced he had a mild right groin strain. He said he first felt it on the next-to-last pitch of the sixth.
Millwood struck out six and threw 68 of Seattle’s 114 pitches.
Furbush took over and retired Gordon to start the seventh, but committed a two-base throwing error on Herrera’s grounder, giving the Dodgers their first scoring chance. Furbush struck out Ethier, and manager Eric Wedge went to hard-throwing rookie Stephen Pryor (1-0) to face Juan Rivera.
Rivera went down on strikes but Pryor started the eighth by walking Bobby Abreu and Jerry Hairston Jr. on nine pitches. Lucas Luetge was next in line and got the first out of the inning on James Loney’s sacrifice bunt.
That brought up A.J. Ellis and Seattle turned to League, recently demoted from the closer role. League got Ellis to hit a sinking liner to left and defensive replacement Chone Figgins made a running catch. His strong throw home kept pinch-runner Alex Castellanos at third base.
League then struck out Tony Gwynn Jr. to end the inning.
“Really, I had visions of winning that game without a hit,” Mattingly said. “First and second, I’m thinking wild pitch, sac fly. With League in the game, that split, you never know.”
The previous no-hitter against the Dodgers was thrown by Atlanta’s Kent Mercker on April 8, 1994. Weaver and Jose Arredondo combined to hold the Dodgers hitless for eight innings in a 1-0 Dodgers win in 2008, but that game doesn’t count as a no-hitter under the rules baseball adopted in 1991 because the Angels only had to pitch eight innings.
Seattle’s run came in the seventh inning thanks to a two-out rally started by Suzuki’s infield single. He stole second, Dustin Ackley walked and Seager came through with his 23rd two-out RBI of the season. His line-drive single off reliever Scott Elbert (0-1) glanced off the glove of a leaping Gordon at shortstop and dropped in left field.
Millwood also took a no-hitter into the sixth inning May 18 at Colorado and finished with a two-hitter. He retired his first 12 batters Friday before a leadoff walk to Rivera in the fifth.
The closest the Dodgers came to a hit off Millwood was Gordon’s bunt leading off the fourth. Seager ran in from third for a fine barehanded pickup and threw out Gordon by a half-step.
“When you win a 1-0 ballgame in that fashion, so many different people have to step up, defensively and on the mound,” Wedge said. “That’s what you saw tonight.”