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Rookie Smith pitches improbable no-hitter

9/4/2001

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Bud Smith sat in the St. Louis dugout and
talked hitting with Mark McGwire.

Nothing unusual about that. Except Smith, a 21-year-old rookie,
was three outs away from a no-hitter.

"We've got no room down there because of the September
callups," Smith said. "So I was sitting next to Big Mac talking
about hitting so it would take my mind off the no-hitter."

Ignoring baseball superstition, Smith became the 16th rookie in
modern history and the 18th since 1900 to throw a no-hitter, beating San Diego 4-0 in the
second unlikely no-no against the Padres this season.

Although he admitted that he was nervous, Smith looked as poised
as a veteran.

"I was shaking out there knowing that I was going for a
no-hitter. I was going on adrenaline," Smith said.

Smith was in the right place for an unexpected no-hitter. His
mother, stepfather and 14 other immediate family members were at
the game, plus 10 high school buddies.

"I started thinking about the no-hitter about the sixth or
seventh inning," Smith said. "I knew I had the stuff to do it."

Smith, making his 11th career start, became the first rookie to
throw a no-hitter since the Cardinals' Jose Jimenez did it in a 1-0
win against Arizona on June 25, 1999.

He ended it by fielding Phil Nevin's hard comebacker, pumping
his fist and running halfway to first base before flipping to
Albert Pujols for the final out.

"I threw him a changeup and he hit it right to me, but I didn't
know I had the ball. When I felt it in my glove, I wanted to run it
over to first base before I threw it to make sure it would get
there."

Smith and Pujols hugged, then the pitcher was mobbed by the rest
of his teammates.

This was the first time Smith pitched beyond the seventh inning.
He walked four -- including all-time walks leader Rickey Henderson
twice -- and struck out seven.

The Padres are the first team since the 1996 Colorado Rockies to
be no-hit twice in one season. Florida's A.J. Burnett walked a
record nine batters in his 3-0 no-hitter in San Diego on May 12.

Smith relies on location with his fastball and curve, and his
fastball topped out at about 86 mph. He seemed to tire in the
ninth, going to three-ball counts twice, but continued to keep the
Padres hitless.

After his conversation with McGwire -- an unusual occurrence when
a pitcher is flirting with a no-hitter -- Smith retired Henderson to
open the ninth.

Smith then walked D'Angelo Jimenez, before shortstop Edgar Renteria made a nice backhand pickup on Ryan Klesko's grounder for
the second out. Smith completed the job on a 2-1 pitch to Nevin.

Smith, who threw two seven-inning no-hitters in the minors last
season, did it in the majors one night after the New York Yankees'
Mike Mussina fell one strike shy of pitching a perfect game against
Boston.

It was St. Louis' ninth no-hitter. The Padres still don't have a
no-hitter since they started play in 1969.

Not even eight-time NL batting champion Tony Gwynn could hit
Smith. Gwynn, reduced to pinch-hitting in his 20th and final season
because of bad knees, grounded out to shortstop for the second out
in the eighth.

Smith was asked when he got nervous.

"When they sent up Mr. Gwynn. He's the only guy I didn't go
over the scouting report for because I didn't think I would face
him," he said. "I just threw it down the middle to see what he
would do with it.

When Gwynn came to the plate, catcher Eli Marrero thought:
"Here goes the no-hitter. He had the crowd behind him. He hit it
good, but Edgar was in the right spot."

The Padres twice came close to getting a hit. Jimenez hit a line
drive to Renteria to end the third, and Bubba Trammell hit a fly
ball to the warning track in left-center for the second out in the
seventh.

"This is special. I feel great right now," Smith said.

Smith was hammered last week in a start against the Padres,
allowing seven runs -- five earned -- and five hits in 3 1/3 innings.
But he was unhittable in the rematch.

"You have to give him credit," Klesko said. "We beat up on
him pretty good last time, and he came in and did this."

Smith threw the third no-hitter this season, joining Boston's
Hideo Nomo, who did it on April 4 against Baltimore, and Burnett.

Exactly two weeks after Burnett's no-hitter, Arizona's Curt Schilling took a perfect game into the eighth before San Diego's
Ben Davis sparked a controversy when he bunted for a single with
one out in the eighth.

On July 19, Randy Johnson held the Padres hitless for 7 2/3
innings before Wiki Gonzalez hit an opposite-field single to right.

On Sunday, Johnson held the Padres without a hit until Nevin
singled with two outs in the sixth.

Bobby Jones (8-17) became the first 17-game loser in the majors
this season, allowing four runs -- three earned -- and seven hits in
6 2-3 innings. He is three losses short of becoming the majors'
first 20-game loser since Brian Kingman of Oakland in 1980.

Pujols hit a two-run homer in the first inning. Placido Polanco
went 3-for-4 with an RBI double and scored once for San Diego.

Game notes
Smith was 0-2 in his previous six starts since beating the
Chicago Cubs on July 26. ... Jones was also knocked out early when
he faced Smith last Wednesday. He gave up nine runs -- four earned --
and seven hits in 1 2-3 innings. ... Florida's Al Leiter and Nomo
for Los Angeles pitched the no-hitters against Colorado in 1996.