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Combined No-Hitter A Rare Baseball Feat

The Mariners tied a major league record Friday night by using six pitchers to throw a no-hitter.

Members of the Seattle Mariners celebrate after a combined no-hitter against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington. The Mariners defeated the Dodgers 1-0. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Members of the Seattle Mariners celebrate after a combined no-hitter against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington. The Mariners defeated the Dodgers 1-0. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
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Friday night, Kevin Millwood of the Mariners had to leave Seattle's game against the Dodgers, after warming up in the top of the seventh, with a groin strain.

This wouldn't ordinarily be a big deal, but he had a no-hitter going. And the game was scoreless.

The Mariners pushed across a run in the bottom of the seventh, and then five more pitchers (Charlie Furbush, Stephen Pryor, Lucas Luetge, Brandon League and Tom Wilhelmsen) finished the no-hitter, the third in Seattle Mariners history.

This was the 276th recognized no-hitter in MLB history (233rd in the "modern era", since 1901), but this is just the tenth that involved more than one pitcher.

The first, famously, happened on June 23, 1917. Babe Ruth, then a pitcher with the Red Sox, walked the Washington Senators' leadoff hitter and argued balls and strikes so vehemently that he was ejected. Ernie Shore replaced him and the baserunner was immediately caught trying to steal second. Shore then retired the next 26 batters, completing a game in which he recorded 27 consecutive outs. For many years this game was considered a perfect game by Shore, but when MLB revisited no-hitters a few years ago, it became only a combined no-hitter.

There wasn't another combined no-hitter until April 30, 1967, when Steve Barber of the Orioles threw 8 innings, but had to yield to Stu Miller to record the final out. The Orioles lost the game 2-1, one of only two MLB-recognized losing no-hitters.

On July 28, 1976, Blue Moon Odom, the former Athletics phenom trying to resurrect his career with the White Sox, threw five no-hit innings against his former team. Unfortunately, he had walked nine and allowed a run; with the game tied 1-1, manager Paul Richards lifted him for Francisco Barrios, who completed the no-no with the White Sox winning 2-1. The 11 combined walks is the most in a no-hitter.

There has been only one combined extra inning no-hitter. That was thrown on July 12, 1997, by the Pittsburgh Pirates' Francisco Cordova (nine innings) and Ricardo Rincon (one inning) over the Houston Astros. The game went into extras scoreless; the Pirates won on a three-run walk-off homer by pinch-hitter Mark Smith in the bottom of the tenth inning.

The record, tied Friday night, for the most pitchers combining to pitch a no-hitter, is six. It was first accomplished by the Houston Astros against the New York Yankees on June 11, 2003. The pitchers were Roy Oswalt, Pete Munro, Kirk Saarloos, Brad Lidge, Octavio Dotel, and Billy Wagner. Oswalt started the game but, like Millwood, left due to injury (after only one inning). Because the Astros led throughout in an 8-0 win, the official scorer had the discretion to name the winning pitcher, since Oswalt didn't go the requisite five innings. He chose Lidge, who threw two perfect innings. This ended a streak of nearly 45 years during which the Yankees were not no-hit, dating back to September 20, 1958, when they were no-hit by Hoyt Wilhelm, then with Baltimore. That streak, which was verified at 7,003 games, was broken in 2010 by the Chicago Cubs, who still hold it; they have not been no-hit since Sandy Koufax threw a perfect game against them on September 9, 1965.

The other major league combined no-hitters are:

September 28, 1975, Oakland Athletics: Vida Blue, Glenn Abbott, Paul Lindblad and Rollie Fingers

April 11, 1990, California Angels: Mark Langston and Mike Witt

July 13, 1991, Baltimore Orioles: Bob Milacki, Mike Flanagan, Mark Williamson and Gregg Olson

September 11, 1991, Atlanta Braves: Kent Mercker, Mark Wohlers and Alejandro Pena

There's one last accomplishment to note for Kevin Millwood after Friday night's gem: he becomes just the fourth pitcher in major-league history to throw a no-hitter by himself and also be part of a combined one (Vida Blue, Mike Witt and Kent Mercker are the others).