Los Angeles Dodgers starter Rich Hill took a perfect game into the ninth inning against the Pirates tonight. He’d make it through nine with the no-hitter intact and come out to pitch the tenth. He’d leave the game the loser. Sometimes baseball isn’t fair.
Pirates second baseman Josh Harrison hit a leadoff walkoff homer in the bottom of the 10th inning on Hill’s 99th pitch of the night. Up until that point the only blemish on the box score was a Logan Forsythe error that allowed a runner to reach in the bottom of the ninth. Hill worked around that, however, and came out for the 10th. In so doing he was the first pitcher to take a no-hitter into extra-innings since Pedro Martinez did it on June 3, 1995.
On that day Martinez allowed a leadoff double in the bottom of the 10th inning and left without a perfect game, or even a no-hitter, but he still got the win as the Expos beat the Padres 1-0. Tonight Hill got neither the perfecto, the no-no or the win. He would strike out ten batters, however, finishing with nine innings pitched, one hit, one earned run and the loss. A tough, tough break.
But it was not just bad luck that handed him the loss. Pirates pitchers weren’t perfect — not by a longshot — allowing eight hits and walking four. But for all of that bending, neither starter Trevor Williams (8 IP, 7 H, 0 ER, 4 BB, 5K) nor relievers Felipe Rivero nor Juan Nicasio broke, shutting out the Dodgers.
The last Dodgers pitcher to toss a no-hitter: Clayton Kershaw on June 18, 2014 against the Rockies. The last Dodgers perfect game: Sandy Koufax on September 9, 1965 against the Cubs.
But hey, at least Hill did something no Dodgers pitcher had ever done before: an extra-inning complete game one-hitter loss. In fact, no one has done that since Harvey Haddix famously lost his perfect game in the 12th inning in 1959. Bobo Newsom did it in 1934 too. So: a pretty exclusive club. Even if Hill likely didn’t want to be in it.