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Sabathia throws 1-hitter in Brewers' 7-0 win

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ALAN ROBINSON
August 31, 2008
— To the Milwaukee Brewers, CC Sabathia pitched a no-hitter. The official scorer disagreed.

The Brewers are going to try to change his mind.


Sabathia limited the Pirates to Andy LaRoche's infield single leading off the fifth inning, on a play Milwaukee manager Ned Yost argued was an error on the pitcher, and the Brewers beat Pittsburgh 7-0 Sunday for their eighth victory in nine games.


"He accomplished a no-hitter and wasn't given what he deserved. That should have been a no-hitter," Yost said. "That's a stinking no-hitter we all got cheated from. I feel horrible for CC."


The Brewers said they plan to send a DVD of the play and send it to Major League Baseball, asking that the call be overturned. However, according to baseball's rulebook, only the official scorer may change a judgment scoring call.


If official scorer Bob Webb were to decide to change the call, it would be the first time in major league history a no-hitter was awarded retroactively.


LaRoche's softly hit grounder on a 2-2 pitch rolled about 45 feet between the plate and the mound before Sabathia picked it up barehanded, only to drop it. The ball may have been hit too softly for Sabathia to get LaRoche at first, even if he had made the play cleanly.


Webb, a major league official scorer for 20 seasons, immediately ruled a hit, explaining he watched LaRoche out of the batter's box and the runner was two-thirds of the way down the line as Sabathia was picking the ball up. Yost and several Brewers players disagreed strongly.


"That's a joke. That wasn't even close. Whoever the scorekeeper was absolutely denied major league baseball a nice no-hitter right there," Yost said. "They threw hit up on the board even before LaRoche hit the bag. That's a play CC makes easily, throws him out by 10 feet to me it's a no-brainer.


"That's sad. It really is sad."


The Brewers' Ryan Braun said, "There's no question that's a no-hitter."


Despite the Brewers' protests, the play in question is often called a hit and fielders often get angry when they are called for errors on easier plays. The Associated Press polled eight writers from both cities who have reported on the majors for 10 years or more, and six would have called it a hit.


Webb wouldn't comment on Yost's remarks, but said the play did not meet the rule book criteria for an error.


"The way the ball came off the bat, it was spinning, and it went to the left of the mound with a left-handed pitcher going to get it. It's a difficult play," Webb said. "The definition requires standard effort, and that would have taken more than an ordinary effort. The runner was well down the line."


As it stands, Sabathia (9-0) pitched the majors' fourth one-hitter this season and couldn't have come much closer to a no-hitter, with no Pirates batter except for LaRoche threatening to get a hit during the team's 10th consecutive loss.


Also, Sabathia pitched with almost no pressure with a multiple-run lead in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings, which wouldn't have been the case if he had a no-hitter going and every late-innings pitch would have been critical. And the Pirates players did not bat in those innings while thinking their team was being no-hit, a mindset that might have changed their approach at the plate.


Sabathia accepted the scoring call calmly, blaming himself for LaRoche getting on.


"The ball was still rolling and I probably should have picked it up with my glove. We probably wouldn't be having this conversation," Sabathia said. "I think if I pick it up with my glove, I get him."


Sabathia wouldn't speculate whether he would have gotten LaRoche if he had picked the ball up cleanly barehanded.


Maybe Sabathia felt he could make a play as he did the inning before, when he caught Nate McLouth's line drive up the middle with the palm of his right hand and flipped the ball to first to turn a double play.


LaRoche was looking for a changeup but got a slider the first one he'd seen from Sabathia in two at-bats and barely got his bat on it.


"I just got it on the ground," he said. "I'd like to think it was a hit. From a selfish standpoint I'd like it to be a hit, but you could make a case either way. But I'm hitting .160 I need every hit I can get."


Sabathia, 3-0 in five career starts against the Pirates, struck out 11 and walked three and faced only 29 batters, two above the minimum. He threw 79 of his 117 pitches for strikes.


Sabathia's previous low-hit game was a three-hitter, accomplished three times, including a 3-0 win over the Cardinals on July 23. His 9-0 record since being dealt by Cleveland to Milwaukee on July 7 matches Doyle Alexander's 9-0 with Detroit in 1987 as the best of any pitcher traded at midseason in the last 90 seasons.


"He's been dominant since he came over and, hopefully, he and rest of the team will take us to the promised land," Bill Hall said.


Three of Sabathia's nine wins are shutouts, and he allowed one earned run in three others. His ERA is 1.43 for the Brewers.


Sabathia got the only run he needed when Ricky Weeks led off the game with his 11th homer, on a 3-2 pitch by starter Jeff Karstens. Karstens (2-4) is 0-4 since pitching 7 1-3 perfect innings against Arizona on Aug. 6, though two of the three runs against him Sunday came after he left the game.


The Brewers finished off a three-game sweep they've won their last nine against the last-place Pirates and have won 18 of 23. They went 20-7 in August, a year after falling apart while going 9-18 for the month.


The other one-hitters this season were by James Shields of Tampa Bay against the Angels on May 9, Matt Garza of the Rays against Florida on June 26 and the Dodgers' Hiroki Kuroda against Atlanta on July 7. Jon Lester of the Red Sox pitched the majors' only no-hitter this season, beating Kansas City on May 19.


Notes:@ Milwaukee (80-56) is 24 games above .500 for the first time since September 1992. ... The Brewers are 11-1 with nine consecutive wins against Pittsburgh, with three games remaining in Milwaukee in late September. They are 5-1 in PNC Park, where they were 22-43 before this season. ... Pirates SS Jack Wilson was lifted in the ninth with a bruised right index finger.



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