Yet it wasn't enough as center fielder Aaron Rowand made a nice running catch, his back hitting hard against the outfield fence for the second out in the ninth inning, to preserve a no-hitter for Sanchez, as the Giants polished off the Padres, 8-0, before a raucous crowd of 30,298 at AT&T Park.
Sanchez, banished to the Giants' bullpen last month because of inconsistency as well as command issues, didn't walk a single batter and only allowed one base runner, and that came in the eighth inning when Chase Headley reached on an error by Giants third baseman Juan Uribe.
The last no-hitter that featured one error that separated it from a perfect game was Terry Mulholland of the Phillies against the Giants on Aug. 15, 1990. Charlie Hayes made an error on the first batter of the seventh inning, which was then wiped out on a double play.
It was the first no-hitter by a Giants pitcher since John Montefusco turned the trick on Sept. 29, 1976, against the New York Mets.
The Sanchez no-hitter marked the seventh time in Padres history the team has been no-hit. The last occurred on Sept. 3, 2001, when Bud Smith of the Cardinals threw a no-no at Qualcomm Stadium.
Error aside, really, Sanchez was about as close to perfect as it gets, even if on a staff that has two starting pitchers headed to the All-Star Game -- Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum -- he might have been the most unlikely one to throw a no-hitter.
Previous no-hitters vs. San Diego
|The Padres, who have never thrown a no-hitter in their 40-plus seasons, have now been the victims of a no-hitter seven times.|
|6/12/70 || || vs. Pittsburgh || Dock Ellis|
|9/2/72 || || at Chicago (NL) || Milt Pappas|
|8/5/73 || || at Atlanta || Phil Niekro|
|9/11/91 || || at Atlanta || Kent Mercker, Mark Wohlers, Alejandro Pena|
|5/12/01 || || vs. Florida || A.J. Burnett|
|9/3/01 || || vs. St. Louis || Bud Smith |
|7/10/09 || || vs. San Francisco || Jonathan Sanchez |
Sanchez worked fast and was efficient with his pitches, needing 110 pitches to get his no-hitter. He threw three or fewer pitches to nine Padres batters, struck out 11 and dodged a major bullet in the ninth inning as Rowand pulled down the long drive to center field by Gonzalez.
"He pitched extremely well," Padres manager Bud Black said. "Right from the outset you could tell he had great stuff. His fastball was lively early. He went to his slider and a few changeups as the game progressed. Our guys went up there and battled, but he was on tonight."
The Padres (35-51), a team that has lost nine of its past 10 games, found themselves in a similar predicament one night before when Lincecum threw six no-hit innings before he allowed a clean single to Tony Gwynn to start the seventh inning.
"When you're in one of these ruts, that's the kind of thing that happens," Gwynn said. "You don't get a nice bad hop or a ball through the hole or the wind pushing a ball down instead of pushing it up.
"I don't know how that ball Edgar hit didn't get over the fence. You've got to tip your hat to a Gold Glove center fielder [Rowand]. He almost made it look easy. I can tell you, it's not easy."
The Padres, who rank last in the Major Leagues in runs (323) and batting average (.232), didn't challenge Sanchez often on Friday. There weren't many close calls, as they had trouble catching up to his fastball early and then had trouble tracking his slider and changeup in the later innings.
Adrian Gonzalez, who leads the team with 24 home runs, several of which he's hit to the opposite field, drove a ball to deep left field to start the eighth inning that John Bowker tracked down on the warning track.
One inning later, Edgar Gonzalez took a shot at Sanchez.
"For some reason, the ball wasn't carrying as well today," said Gonzalez, who has four home runs this season. "Not to take anything away from Sanchez, he did a great job today. I thought it was out. Rowand made a great play."
The Giants (48-38) backed Sanchez with early offense, as they scored four runs in the second inning off Padres pitcher Josh Banks (1-1), with Rowand striking the big blow in the inning with a two-run single.
Pablo Sandoval later added a two-run home run in the fifth inning as the Giants poured it on, all while Sanchez sat alone in the dugout, being ignored by his teammates who sensed something big might be in the works.
"He made history tonight and to be part of it is special," San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said. "I was nervous for the kid myself watching it. Incredible stuff he has always had the equipment. Rough first half [of the season], he had his ups and downs. Tonight he had everything working."