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Archive for Monday, April 28, 2003

Millwood masterful

Phillies pitcher no-hits Giants in 1-0 victory

April 28, 2003

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— Often overlooked and considered expendable in Atlanta, Kevin Millwood at last outdid his former Cy Young teammates.

Millwood pitched his first career no-hitter, shutting down Barry Bonds and the NL's top team to lead Philadelphia past San Francisco, 1-0, Sunday.

Millwood, acquired from Atlanta in December, struck out 10 and walked three to record the ninth no-hitter in team history.

His gem came on the first anniversary of the last no-hitter in the majors, by Boston's Derek Lowe against Tampa Bay.

"Every pitcher's goal is to throw one. I was probably as nervous as I've ever been," said Millwood, traded during the offseason for catcher Johnny Estrada in a cost-cutting move by the Braves.

"It was one of those special days, and I don't plan on doing it every time out, but it was a lot of fun."

Millwood used several variations of his fastball and just enough offspeed pitches to keep Bonds and the other Giants' hitters off-balance throughout the afternoon -- and kept the crowd of 40,016 cheering at Veterans Stadium.

"My fastball was the flavor of the day," said Millwood, who threw it on 81 of his 108 pitches. "The fans were great, they were loud and on their feet. When I got two strikes, it was so loud I couldn't hear myself think. That made me more nervous."

In Atlanta, Millwood pitched behind Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz.

Maddux (four), Glavine (two) and Smoltz (one) have seven Cy Young awards among them, but none has pitched no-hitter. The trio has three one-hitters, two by Maddux and one by Smoltz.

"That was cool," said Maddux, who watched on a clubhouse television as Atlanta played Milwaukee at Turner Field. "I really enjoyed it. I was probably more nervous than he was."

Philadelphia pitcher Kevin Millwood, center, celebrates as he is
congratulated by his teammates. Millwood tossed the ninth no-hitter
in team history in Sunday's 1-0 victory over San Francisco in
Philadelphia.

Philadelphia pitcher Kevin Millwood, center, celebrates as he is congratulated by his teammates. Millwood tossed the ninth no-hitter in team history in Sunday's 1-0 victory over San Francisco in Philadelphia.

Millwood said upstaging his former mentors didn't make his performance more special.

"I'd be just as excited if one of those guys threw it," he said.

Millwood retired Bonds three times, striking out the single-season home-run king in the seventh looking at a 91 mph fastball. Bonds hit a long drive to right that Bobby Abreu caught near the wall in the fourth.

Marquis Grissom came the closest to getting a hit, but center fielder Ricky Ledee raced back and made a leaping one-handed catch on his hard liner to right-center to start the seventh.

"I was just praying that Ricky would make a great play and he did," Millwood said.

Ledee homered for the game's only run and also caught the final out.

Jose Cruz Jr. nearly homered in the second, but his long fly hooked outside the right-field foul pole.

"He threw a great game," Cruz said. "He kept pumping them up there."

Grissom hit a routine fly ball to Ledee for the final out of the game.

Earlier in the ninth, Millwood retired pinch-hitters Neifi Perez and Marvin Benard on grounders before walking Ray Durham on a full count. Millwood retired 15 straight batters before the walk.

"Not only was that unbelievable, it came against the best team in the National League right now," Phillies manager Larry Bowa said. "To do it in 1-0 game makes it more special."

St. Louis' Bud Smith, now a Phillies' minor leaguer, pitched the last NL no-hitter against San Diego on Sept. 3, 2001.

When Grissom lofted the final fly ball, Millwood (4-1) put his right finger up the air and held it there as Ledee made the catch.

Phillies first baseman Jim Thome was the first teammate to reach Millwood, coming over from first base and embracing the pitcher on the mound. Thome and Millwood were Philadelphia's top acquisitions in a free-spending offseason.

Catcher Mike Lieberthal hugged Millwood and Bowa pumped his fist as he ran from the dugout. But Bowa couldn't get to Millwood as the Phillies surrounded him.

Millwood tipped his hat twice to the fans, who stood the last two innings to root him on. His wife, Rena, said she chewed her fingernails the last few innings.

"I wouldn't say it was his best stuff," Lieberthal said. "His slider wasn't working and he threw a few curves. It was all his fastball."

The last Phillies pitcher to throw a no-hitter was Tommy Greene against Montreal on May 23, 1991.

Philadelphia's Terry Mulholland pitched the only other nine-inning no-hitter in Veterans Stadium history against the Giants on Aug. 15, 1990.

"He was getting the calls and then he got more aggressive," Giants shortstop Rich Aurilia said.

Down in Atlanta, the Braves cheered their former teammate. Maddux was charting pitches in the clubhouse when he noticed what Millwood was doing through the early innings.

"I had a hard time watching our game," Maddux said.

Braves manager Bobby Cox caught the end of Millwood's outing.

"That was sensational," Cox said.

Ledee gave Millwood all the runs he needed with his first-inning homer off Jesse Foppert (0-2), who made his second major league start.

"He was awesome," Ledee said of Millwood.

Foppert allowed one run and three hits in six innings. The right-hander gave up five runs in the first inning of a 5-3 loss to Pittsburgh in his first start.

Notes: Millwood also has one career one-hitter against Pittsburgh on April 14, 1998. ... Montreal's Pascual Perez pitched a rain-shortened, five-inning no-hitter at the Vet on Sept. 24, 1988. ... This is the last season for the Phillies at the Vet. ... The last three pitchers to no-hit the Giants were name Kevin. Los Angeles' Kevin Gross did it on Aug. 17, 1992. Florida's Kevin Brown did it on June 10, 1997. ... The Phillies became the first team to win a series against San Francisco, off to an 18-6 start, since Montreal did it last August. The Giants were 14-0-4 in that span. ... Millwood lost to the Giants in the decisive fifth game of last season's NL divisional playoffs.

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