SAN FRANCISCO — Jonathan Sanchez is not a Cy Young award winner like Randy Johnson or Barry Zito. He is not going to the All-Star game like Tim Lincecum or Matt Cain.
When he took the mound Friday night, he was the problem child in a rotation of pitching prodigies.
But suddenly, surprisingly, Sanchez has earned a venerated and lasting place in Giants history. Excuse the dust, though. Nobody has inhabited it in 33 years.
With a called third strike to Everth Cabrera, Sanchez became the fifth pitcher in the club's San Francisco era to throw a nine-inning no-hitter. Only third baseman Juan Uribe's error kept Sanchez from the 18th perfect game in major league history as the Giants beat the San Diego Padres, 8-0, at AT&T Park.
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Sanchez (3-8) became the first Giant to throw a no-hitter since John "The Count" Montefusco on Sept. 29, 1976. The Giants had been no-hit by opponents seven times since one of their own had accomplished the feat.
Center fielder Aaron Rowand saved the day in the ninth inning, making a leaping catch at the wall to take a hit away from Edgar Gonzalez for the second out in the ninth inning. Just prior to that, shortstop Edgar Renteria made a throw from deep in the hole to retire Luis Rodriguez.
Plate umpire Brian Runge pumped his arm as Cabrera took a pitch on the outside edge, sending a standing crowd of 30,298 into elation.
Sanchez struck out 11 and threw 77 of his 110 pitches for strikes.
Sanchez's bid began to resonate within the crowd in the seventh, when he struck out the side. The crowd let out a yelp when Sanchez fanned Gwynn Jr., who broke up Lincecum's no-hit bid a night earlier when he led off the seventh inning with a single.
Sanchez retired the first 22 hitters he faced, surviving scares when All-Star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez hit drives to the warning track on the second and eighth innings.
Sanchez fell behind 3-0 to Gonzalez in the eighth before throwing a called strike. Gonzalez hit the next pitch deep to left field. But the ball hung in the night air and John Bowker caught it on the warning track.
With San Diego's best hitter dispatched, Sanchez had five outs and a clear road to perfection. But almost before that thought could settle in, Chase Headley hit a bouncing ball that deflected off Uribe's chest for an error.
Uribe scrambled in vain to pick up the carom, and threw the ball back to Sanchez with a pained expression on his face.
But Sanchez still had history in front of him. Pinch hitter Craig Stansberry flied out and Eliezer Alfonzo struck out to end the eighth.
Sanchez took the mound just hoping to win back a measure of respect after three erratic months led to his demotion from the rotation.
Sanchez was making his first start since June 22, when he couldn't escape the sixth inning at Oakland. It was a common failure.
He completed six innings in just two of 13 starts, and had retired a total of two batters in the seventh inning all season.