Roy Halladay came within five outs of making history with a no-hitter again tonight. Just not the good kind. Dodger pitcher Hiroki Kuroda had a no-hitter broken up with one out in the eighth inning of a game Los Angeles went on to win, 3-0. If Kuroda had finished his no-hit bid, Halladay would have become the first pitcher since Juan Marichal in 1963 to throw a no-hitter and have a no-hitter thrown against him in the same season. The Phillies’ ace developed a crippling case of Cole Hamels’ Disease in Chavez Ravine, being undone by a series of soft bloop hits and a lack of run support.
For Kuroda’s part, he was outstanding, throwing a dizzying array of off-speed pitches to an impatient Phillies lineup. Despite hitting Jayson Werth in the second inning Kuroda faced the minimum through five. He later walked Carlos Ruiz in the sixth and Werth in the eighth before Shane Victorino got the only hit of the night.
The Phillies only threat came in the eighth, when Werth’s leadoff walk, followed by a Raul Ibanez fielder’s choice and Victorino’s hit brought the tying run to the plate. Kuroda struck out Carlos Ruiz, then Hong-Chih Kuo retired Mike Sweeney, who was pinch-hitting for Dom Brown, who, in turn, was pinch-hitting for Halladay. Kuo pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his seventh save on the year.
The Phillies, bizarrely, have had serious trouble with Japanese starting pitchers this season. They’ve faced 4 Japanese-born starting pitchers once each this season. They beat the Braves on May 9. Shane Victorino hit a solo home run off Kenshin Kawakami in the seventh inning of that game. That was the last run the Phillies have scored of a Japanese starter. Since then, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Hisanori Takahashi, and Kuroda have combined to throw 22 consecutive scoreless innings. What’s more, Matsuzaka and Kuroda both took no-hitters into the eighth inning of their starts.
Game two of the series starts at 10:10 tomorrow night.