The record says that Ted Lilly's no-hitter was broken up by Juan Pierre's pinch single on a one-strike pitch Sunday night and the Cubs won 1-0, sticking White Sox counterpart Gavin Floyd with the toughest-luck loss.
But both pitchers ended up winners even if the "W" could only be awarded to one. There aren't a pair of more decent fellows in town who have deserved a lot better this season.
Floyd first noticed something interesting in the fifth. No hits were recorded on the scoreboard.
“I thought that was kind of neat,” Floyd said.
Meanwhile, the Blackhawks' presence in one of the grandest pre-game ceremonies in Chicago sports history had caused a distraction. Wrigley Field was still buzzing with the presence of the Stanley Cup, placed on the pitchers' mound before the game for the ceremonial first pitch, then finding its way to a broadcast booth where media members lined up to take pitchers with the famed talisman.
Yet when two pitchers have no-hitters going simultaneously, even the NHL champs became aware. As the Hawks signed autographs and exchanged fist bumps and high-fives all over the ballpark and waited to sing in the bottom of the seventh, they began talking about the concurrent budding gems of Lilly and Floyd.
The Sox pitcher cracked first with two out in the seventh, losing his shutout moments later. Lilly lasted 1 1/3 innings more, then had to pace the dugout while Carlos Marmol had one of his typical stomach-churning saves bailed out only by his spectacular stuff.
Lilly had a well-deserved 1-0 victory. He had an undeserved 1-5 record coming in with just a 3.28 ERA. Like all other Cubs starters, he works on the razor's edge with little or no run support.
The soft-spoken Lilly is the toughest Cubs starter over the past 3 1/2 seasons, more mentally strong than the better-known, better-paid Carlos Zambrano. Don't call him a bulldog; those canines are really gentle love-dogs. "Terrier Ted" was a better nickname, as terriers grab on to your ankles and don't let go.
Need someone to buckle down and blank the opposition after giving up a couple of early runs? Call on Lilly, the best free-agent acquisition of Jim Hendry's GM career. One of Lou Piniella's many errors in handling the 2008 post-season was not starting 17-game-winner Lilly early against the Dodgers.
Floyd's 2010 season has been a disaster. He had worked hard under capable Sox pitching coach Don Cooper to rebuild his career after coming over in a trade for Freddy Garcia late in 2006. His development had been a major reason the Sox starting rotation was rated so highly going into the season. Floyd's collapse -- just six starts out of 13 where he allowed fewer than four runs, with a 6.18 ERA -- was a catalyst for the cratering of the rotation until the last week.
Floyd has always been forthright in discussing his craft and the Sox. Some players are moody and you give them a wide berth. But Floyd has always been eminently approachable, without arrogance or raging ego. Stopping by his locker before the game was a must on days he did not pitch.
He was upbeat after his loss. Floyd proved he could match a tough foe pitch for pitch under a near-playoff atmosphere, heightened by the Hawks' presence. He really did win despite losing. The right-hander just has to bottle some of his efficiency, and a lot of his confidence, for future starts. If he does, the Sox have a chance to climb back into contention.
There was a hidden bottom line at work Sunday night. A no-hitter was not going to be pitched, no matter how great Lilly and Floyd worked. Your humble columnist was in the building. I am the no-no jinx. I have seen so many hitless gems broken up in the ninth. Meanwhile, I have missed attending Mark Buehrle's two no-hitters and Carlos Zambrano's gem, the latter due to my stemming a drain backup into my house due to the hurricane remnants that shifted the Cubs-Astros game to Milwaukee for Big Z's outing. Going back into antiquity, I attended the game before Burt Hooton's no-no and the game after Milt Pappas' missed-perfecto (still a no-no), both in 1972.
So if a pitcher dreams of a no-hitter, as Hooton said he did the night before, he's best advised to call me beforehand. I charge reasonable fees to stay away.