Sunday, May 13, 2001

Marlins' Burnett no-hits Padres

Nine walks is record for nine-inning no-no

AP Sports Writer

A.J. Burnett celebrates with catcher Charles Johnson.
(AP photo)
| ZOOM |
        SAN DIEGO — A.J. Burnett's unlikely no-hitter could be summed up in one word — wild!

        Overcoming a record nine walks, Burnett kept San Diego off-balance and hitless in the first complete game of his major league career, leading the Florida Marlins over the Padres 3-0 Saturday night.

        “That's a lot of walks,” said Burnett, who was drenched with beer by teammates. “I'm not going to lie to anybody, that's ridiculous. But you can't tell me anything right now that's going to take me down. I'll take nine walks, any way, shape.

        “I don't know what else to say. I'm on cloud nine right now. This is the highlight of my life right now.”

        The 24-year-old walked the most batters in a nine-inning, complete-game, no-hitter since 1900 and tied Al Leiter's team record for walks in a game.

        Only the Reds' Jim Maloney had more walks in a complete-game no-hitter, 10 in 10 innings against the Chicago Cubs on Aug. 19, 1965.

        Burnett also hit a batter and had a wild pitch, throwing just 65 of 128 pitches for strikes.

        “If he hadn't have walked nine, he probably wouldn't have gotten the no-hitter,” said San Diego's Phil Nevin, who made the final out. “He was so wild in the zone — the thing about his fastball was it was moving so much.

        “But you know what? Good for him. He's a good guy and he's had a lot of injuries. Maybe this will jump-start him.”

        The 6-foot-5 right-hander, just 8-10 in his major league career, was making his second start of the season and 22nd of his three-year major league career.

        Burnett (1-1), who struck out seven, missed the first month while on an injury rehabilitation assignment due to a stress fracture in his right foot.

        “It's an amazing feeling. Just to be able to throw one is awesome,” he said. “I never thought the second start back I'd throw a no-hitter.”

        It was only his second complete game in 99 starts as a professional. Of his 128 pitches, just 65 were strikes.

        Alex Arias flied to right starting the ninth and pinch-hitter Santiago Perez struck out.

        Nevin, another pinch-hitter, then popped to shortstop for the final out.

        Catcher Charles Johnson ran out and hugged Burnett near home plate, and the rest of the Marlins mobbed the pitcher.

        Johnson also caught the other two other no-hitters by the Marlins, by Leiter in 1996 and Kevin Brown the following year.

        “I've been very fortunate to be able to play with some very good pitchers,” Johnson said. “A.J.'s young, and is a guy who has a wealth of talent.”

        Johnson said the most remarkable thing was that it was just Burnett's second start this year.

        “When that ball went up in the air, it's an unbelievable feeling,” Johnson said of the final out. “No-hitters don't happen very often, so when you see that ball go up in the air and Alex catch it, it's like a sigh of relief, almost, and a very exciting feeling goes over your body.”

        The closest the Padres came to a hit was on Arias' grounder to shortstop in the seventh. Gonzalez made a sliding, backhanded stop, and his throw was up the first-base line. Arias tried to hop over Derrek Lee's tag, but Lee tagged Arias on the left foot.

        An inning earlier, Bubba Trammell hit a grounder to the hole at second but Luis Castillo got to it and threw him out.

        “I had a feeling a special thing was going to happen the way the defense way tonight,” Burnett said.

        Burnett had a double at the plate in the second, giving him one more hit than he allowed. He started noticing his no-hit bid in the seventh.

        “I knew after the seventh that I had a chance, but I didn't want to throw too many pitches,” Burnett said. “I felt good all night, and the closer it got the more confident I was.”

        Al Leiter threw Florida's first no-hitter on May 11, 1996, against Colorado, and Kevin Brown — San Diego's ace in 1998 — no-hit San Francisco on June 10, 1997.

        Burnett, coincidentally, came to the Marlins in the deal that sent Leiter to the New York Mets on Feb. 6, 1998.

        Burnett's gem was the second of the season. Boston's Hideo Nomo no-hit Baltimore on April 4.

        The Padres have been no-hit five times, twice at home. The previous was Sept. 11, 1991, a combined no-no by Atlanta's Kent Mercker, Mark Wohlers and Alejandro Pena.

        Notes: Four pitchers had walked eight in nine-inning, complete game no-hitters since 1900: Johnny Vander Meer for Cincinnati against Brooklyn on June 15, 1938; Cliff Chambers for Pittsburgh against the Boston Braves on May 6, 1951; Doc Ellis for Pittsburgh against San Diego on June 12, 1970; and Nolan Ryan for California against Minnesota on Sept. 28, 1974. ... Leiter walked nine with Florida on May 22, 1996, at Cincinnati. ... Rickey Henderson extended two of his big league career records within a matter of moments in the third inning. He drew his 2,074th walk and then stole his 1,378th base.

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