As you probably know, allowing zero hits is often a good way to set your team up for success and victory. Namely: There have been over 300 nine-inning no-hitters in AL/NL history, including combined no-hitters, and the team that threw the no-hitter won all but two. In other words, when you don’t allow a hit in nine innings, you win more than 99% of the time.
But, as always, there are exceptions. On April 23, 1964, Ken Johnson of the Houston Colt .45s became the first pitcher to throw a nine-inning no-hitter and lose. In fact, he is still the only individual to throw an official no-hitter (nine innings) and lose. There is also an example of a combined nine-inning no-hitter resulting in a loss, as well as a trio of games where eight innings without hits still resulted in an L. (Why were eight innings? managed to hit the ninth. These aren’t officially considered no-hitters, but we’ll count them here for the purposes of this exercise.)
On Sunday afternoon, the Reds became the last team to find themselves in that position, in a 1-0 loss to the Pirates. In honor of that rare result, here is a complete look at the six times a pitcher or team did not allow hits in a game and still came out at the end:
Hunter Greene and Art Warren – May 15, 2022, Reds at Pirates
That was almost an incredible feat. The Reds went into the game against the Pirates with an astronomical 6.18 ERA team, the worst in baseball by more than one run, and for his part, Greene had an even uglier 7.62 in his first six games in the game. MLB
The 22-year-old rookie, a highly touted prospect, knocked out nine in the first seven frames. Surprisingly, the Reds sent him back to eighth, which resulted in his fourth and fifth walks of the day. With Greene having shot 118 MLB season-highs in 7 1/3 innings, Cincinnati finally made it to the bullpen. But Warren took another step, loading the bases and preparing the Pirates to score in the field of choice for Ke’Bryan Hayes’ defender. That was all Pittsburgh would get, but the damage was already done, and the Reds went down in order at the start of the ninth to seal it. (POINTS BOX)
Jered Weaver and Jose Arredondo – June 28, 2008, Angels at Dodgers
Weaver was once one of the best pitchers in the game, finishing in the top five in the American League Cy Young Award voting three years in a row (2010-2012). But before all that came the most unusual start of his career.
Weaver kept the Dodgers hitless for four innings in a goalless game, but then the fifth inning came. Matt Kemp caught a mistake from Weaver himself, who failed to put a weak grounder back at him. With Blake DeWitt’s hits, Kemp stole second place and advanced to third on a throw error. DeWitt hit a sacrificial fly, and suddenly the Dodgers were leading 1-0, even though they still hadn’t hit. Weaver exited the entrance without allowing another run, but his team was already defeated. The Angels did not have one of their own baserunners advancing beyond second base for the rest of the game and did not score in a 1–0 loss to rival Interleague. Weaver’s final line was six innings, one undeserved run, three walks, and six strikeouts. Arredondo came out of the bullpen with two goalless and goalless innings and three strikeouts.
Said Weaver later when asked about his feat, “I’m sure you guys will eat this a lot more than I do. I don’t consider it a no-hitter for me.” (POINTS BOX)
Matt Young, Red Sox – April 12, 1992, in Cleveland
Young made eight innings in this one, not allowing a hit for the entire game, but not needing to pitch the ninth inning because the Indians, playing at home, were already winning 2-1. How did the game get to this point? Well, Young’s full line wasn’t just eight innings and zero hits, he also walked Seven scouts – and allowed for two won runs.
The first race scored at the bottom of the first. Young walked Kenny Lofton to start the inning and Lofton promptly stole second base. He then stole third place during a Glenallen Hill strikeout, putting him just 90 feet from scoring a run. Next hitter, Carlos Baerga, caught shortstop Luis Rivera on a pitching error, marking Lofton to put Cleveland 1-0 early on without a hit.
Then, at the bottom of the third, Young walked the first two hitters of the inning, Mark Lewis and Lofton. After Hill’s choice of an infielder, leading to runners in first and third, Hill stole second base, giving his club’s runners in second and third. With Baerga on the plate again, he nailed the choice of a defender, which marked Lewis, the third-place runner. That gave Cleveland a 2-0 lead, still goalless, that they wouldn’t give up. The Red Sox scored a run at the top of fourth on a Luis Rivera single, but failed to add beyond that.
Young was a little philosophical about the whole thing after the fact. “It’s irrelevant because we lost the game,” he said. “A no-hitter should be where you hit the last guy and the catcher comes out and jumps into your arms. A loss is a loss.” (POINTS BOX)
Andy Hawkins, Yankees – July 1, 1990, White Sox
Through 7 2/3 innings, Hawkins appeared to be setting up a normal play with no hits. He took three walks but didn’t allow a run or a hit and kept the White Sox at bay. Of course, his own team hadn’t scored either. But with two eliminations in the eighth, the story changed dramatically.
White Sox right fielder Sammy Sosa caught a miss from Yankees third baseman Mike Blowers. Sosa then stole second base, but that wouldn’t matter as Hawkins beat the next hitter, Ozzie Guillen, anyway. He stepped up to the next hitter, Lance Johnson, too, carrying the bases. Robin Ventura hit a flying ball that should have ended the inning, but left defender Jim Leyritz – who was a rookie and emerged primarily as a catcher – dropped the ball and three runs were scored. It was the third game of Leyritz’s Major League career playing in left field and only fourth overall in outfield. He would go on to appear in left field in just 25 total games in his 11-season career.
Scoring didn’t end after that mistake. Ivan Calderón was next, with Ventura at second base. Calderón threw a ball to right-back Jesse Barfield. He fought the sun and wind and dropped the ball, allowing Ventura to score.
A Yankees hitter hit base in the ninth inning, also by mistake, but was outed when Barfield hit a double play late in the game. With that, the Yankees lost 4-0, despite Hawkins pitching the entire game and not allowing for a hit—or a well-deserved run.
“Everyone congratulated me,” Hawkins said after that game, “but I gave up four runs and lost. I’m shocked that I made a no-hitter, and I’m shocked that I was beaten. I’m going to have to sleep with it.’ ‘ (BOX SCORE)
Steve Barber and Stu Miller, Orioles – April 30, 1967 against Tigers
This is one of only two nine-inning no-hitters that resulted in a loss, although it was a “team” effort.
Barber’s line in this game went for ages — 8 2/3 IP, 0 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 10 BB, 3 K. Stu Miller is also known for facing the last two hitters and also not allowing a hit . This game was goalless in seven innings, and the Orioles actually opened up a 1-0 lead at the bottom of the eighth with a Luis Aparicio fly, making a win – and possibly a traditional no-hitter – seem likely.
But then Barber beat the first two batters in the ninth inning, Norm Cash and Ray Oyler. Earl Wilson executed a sacrifice, successfully moving Dick Tracewski, who ran through Cash, to third and Oyler to second. Willie Horton then hit a foul pop for the second out, with no runners advancing. With Mickey Stanley hitting, Barber threw a wild pitch, allowing Tracewski to score and tie the game, and moving Oyler from second to third. Barber walked with Stanley and was taken out of the game, with Miller coming in to shoot. The first hitter Miller faced, Don Wert, hit a grounder for Aparicio at shortstop, but when second baseman Mark Belanger – a legendary fielder who had just joined the game – failed to secure the pitch, Oyler scored from third and Belanger was charged. of an error. Miller finally got Al Kaline to finish the entrance.
The Orioles went to the bottom of ninth place with the no-hitter intact but down 2-1 and had some hope with two future Hall of Famers. But Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson and Mike Epstein went down 1-2-3 in the ninth game, and the Orioles lost the game despite not allowing any rebounds. (POINTS BOX)
Ken Johnson, Colt .45s – April 23, 1964, against Reds
This is the gold standard – the only losing nine-inning no-hitter thrown by a pitcher.
Johnson was cruising to the top of the ninth when Pete Rose caught a mistake (and advanced to the second) due to a missed shot by Johnson himself. The next hitter, Chico Ruiz, fell to the ground, taking Rose into third place. But even that was unusual, as the grounder hit Johnson in the shin. Johnson stayed in the game and the next hitter, Vada Pinson, hit a grounder to second baseman Nellie Fox that could have ended the inning, but Fox missed the ball and Rose scored. Johnson got Frank Robinson to fly out (yes, Robinson was involved in two no-hitters that resulted in a loss), and the top of the ninth ended. The Colt .45s got a base runner at the bottom of the ninth when Pete Runnels caught a miss, but failed to get him across to tie the game.
Johnson’s final line was 9 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 9 K, and he had a scathing assessment of the day. “I threw the best game of my life and I still lost,” Johnson said. “One hell of a way to get into the record books.” (POINTS BOX)