SAN FRANCISCO – Jonathan Sanchez, an unlikely candidate, pitched the majors’ first no-hitter this season Friday night, dominating the San Diego Padres with an array of pitches in the San Francisco Giants’ 8-0 victory.
The 26-year-old left-hander returned to the rotation after a nearly three-week demotion to the bullpen – and he got the call only because 303-game winner Randy Johnson went on the disabled list this week with a shoulder injury.
Gold Glove center fielder Aaron Rowand saved the no-hitter with a leaping catch at the center-field fence to rob pinch-hitter Edgar Gonzalez for the second out of the ninth inning.
Sanchez (3-8) nearly tossed a perfect game – the only runner the Padres managed came on an error by third baseman Juan Uribe in the eighth.
With his father cheering from the stands, Sanchez threw a called third strike past Everth Cabrera to end it and thrust his arms in the air after his first career complete game. The pitcher was quickly mobbed by teammates, including Johnson – the last to throw a perfect game.
Sanchez said his father arrived in San Francisco the previous night. When the pitcher came off the field, his dad was among those waiting in the dugout to congratulate him.
“This is the first time he has seen me pitch. This is a gift for him,” said Sanchez, who struck out 11. “I feel awesome.”
It was the Giants’ 13th no-hitter and first since John Montefusco did it on Sept. 29, 1976, at Atlanta. It was their first no-hitter in San Francisco since Ed Halicki beat the New York Mets in the second game of a doubleheader on Aug. 24, 1975.
The Padres failed to get a hit for the first time since Bud Smith blanked them 4-0 pitching for St. Louis on Sept. 3, 2001, and the seventh occasion in franchise history.
Sanchez had a five-start winless stretch earlier this season in which he went 0-4.
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