ST. LOUIS — Cardinals rookie Michael Wacha lost his no-hit bid on Ryan Zimmerman’s infield single with two outs in the ninth inning, and St. Louis beat the Washington Nationals 2-0 Tuesday night to close in on the NL Central title.
Making his ninth career start, Wacha came about as close as possible to finishing off the third no-hitter in the majors this season. Instead, he became the third pitcher to have a bid broken up with one out to go.
Zimmerman hit a chopper just over Wacha’s glove — the pitcher said he thought it nicked his mitt — and the ball bounced slowly toward shortstop. A charging Pete Kozma grabbed it with his bare hand and whipped a throw to first that was a little wide, pulling Matt Adams off the bag just as Zimmerman arrived.
The crowd at Busch Stadium let out a loud, collective groan. Third baseman David Freese sat crouched in the infield, stunned at how close his 22-year-old teammate had come.
Wacha (4-1) was pulled after Zimmerman’s hit and walked off to a huge ovation from disappointed fans who were standing throughout the ninth inning. The right-hander struck out nine and walked two.
“I guess I wasn’t meant to throw one tonight,” Wacha said.
Trevor Rosenthal got Jayson Werth to ground out for his second save.
Wacha retired pinch-hitter Steve Lombardozzi on a grounder to Kozma to begin the ninth, then threw a called third strike past Denard Span.
Zimmerman was up next, and he spoiled it for Wacha.
Texas’ Yu Darvish lost a perfect game with two outs in the ninth against Houston on April 2 and San Francisco’s Yusmeiro Petit had his try at perfection end one out shy against Arizona on Sept 6.
Cincinnati’s Homer Bailey and the Giants’ Tim Lincecum threw no-hitters this season.
The last two no-hitters by St. Louis pitchers came from rookies — Bud Smith in 2001 and Jose Jimenez in 1999.
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