ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Edwin Jackson had a chance to finish the ugliest of the no-hitters in this the Year of the Pitcher, and nothing was going to stop of him.
Not Arizona manager A.J. Hinch. Certainly not the Tampa Bay Rays.
Barreling ahead despite a soaring pitch count, Jackson tossed the fourth no-hitter of the season Friday night, beating his former team 1-0 despite walking eight, hitting a batter and watching another reach base on an error.
It took an astounding 149 pitches — most in the majors in five years — to complete the second no-hitter in Arizona history.
“We talked every inning after about the sixth because I was checking on him. It’s such a complicated situation with the game in the balance and him chasing a no-hitter,” Hinch said.
“He kept saying he was fine and, ‘I’m not coming out, I’m not coming out, I’m not coming out.’ As the momentum built and the situation grew, it was pretty evident he had an extra gear. It’s something to celebrate.”
All but one of Jackson’s walks came in the first three innings, but the Rays still were no-hit for the third time in less than a year, including perfect games by Dallas Braden at Oakland on May 9 and Mark Buehrle at Chicago last July 23.
Colorado’s Ubaldo Jimenez no-hit Atlanta on April 17 and Philadelphia’s Roy Halladay tossed a perfect game at Florida on May 29. Detroit’s Armando Galarraga lost his perfect game with two outs in the ninth on a blown call by umpire Jim Joyce.
“It’s one of those moments where I tell him I’m not coming out until I give up a hit or a home run. You want to skip my next start, that’s fine. Give me an extra day, that’s fine,” Jackson said.
“It’s one of those opportunities that doesn’t come everyday. And for me to come out of that game without giving up a hit, it would have been what if. What if I would have stayed in. I’m glad it didn’t have to be a what if situation.”
Jason Bartlett grounded to shortstop Stephen Drew for the final out and Jackson’s teammates mobbed him after the improbable feat.
Jackson, who entered the game with a 5.05 ERA, is 43-45 in eight seasons. He was an All-Star last year for Detroit before being traded to Arizona in the offseason in a three-team trade with the Yankees that included Curtis Granderson.
Two years ago, the 26-year-old right-hander matched a Tampa Bay franchise record with 14 wins to help the Rays make an improbable run to the World Series.
“It’s one of those bittersweet moments. You throw a no-hitter and it’s against your old team. At least it’s with a crowd that you’ve had accomplishment with,” said Jackson who was hit with a pie in the face by a teammate during an on-field interview before receiving a beer shower heading into the clubhouse.
The crowd of 18,918 stood and applauded the first no-hitter at Tropicana Field in the relatively short history of the Rays, who like the Diamondbacks began play in 1998.
Randy Johnson has the only other no-hitter in Arizona history, a perfect game at Atlanta on May 18, 2004.
Adam LaRoche homered off Jeff Niemann (6-2) in the second inning, all the support Jackson would need.
“He’s a great athlete and a great kid. He’s one of the very few who can do that,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said, noting Jackson’s ability to continue to pitch well despite a high pitch count.
“We had so many guys on base,” Rays center fielder B.J. Upton said, “nobody knew it was a no-hitter until the seventh.”
Jackson (5-6) walked the bases loaded in the third but was bailed out by a stellar play by third baseman Mark Reynolds, who spun around to throw out Ben Zobrist at home plate. Hank Blalock then grounded out to end the inning.
Reynolds made another big play on a sharp line drive by Bartlett in the seventh. Earlier in the at-bat Bartlett hit a dribbler that hung close to the third base line before rolling foul in front of the bag.
In the eighth, Miguel Montero threw out pinch-runner Carl Crawford trying to steal second after Carlos Pena reached on an error by Drew.
Jackson was so wild and the pitch count unusually high that the Diamondbacks had relievers warming up from the sixth inning on.
“All’s well that ends well.” Hinch said. “We stopped counting at about 115.”
No one had thrown that many pitches in a nine-inning game since June 3, 2005, when Washington’s Livan Hernandez threw 150 against the Marlins.
Jackson pitched for the Rays from 2006-08. His only other shutout in 126 career starts came for Tampa Bay in 2007.
“He was a big part of our success and a great guy in the clubhouse,” Upton said, adding Jackson seemed as strong as the end as he did in the beginning.
“For him to have thrown that many pitches and still have 95 (mph) in the tank at the end says a lot about him.”
Jackson’s eight walks were a career high — he struck out six. In 2001, A.J. Burnett walked a record nine in a no-hitter for Florida against San Diego.
In the ninth, Jackson struck out B.J. Upton on three pitches. After Blalock flied to left, Jackson walked pinch hitter Willy Aybar before getting the final out for his 149th pitch.
NOTES: Jackson’s performance overshadowed the first meeting between brothers B.J. and Justin Upton, who despite being relatively close in age had never competed with or against each other at any level before Friday. … The no-hitter was the fourth in interleague play. David Cone (Yankees, 1999), six Astros pitchers (2003) and Justin Verlander (Tigers, 2007) had the others. … Niemann allowed six hits, struck out eight and walked two in 7 1-3 innings for Tampa Bay.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.