Zach Davies and three Chicago Cubs relievers combined for the seventh no-hitter in the majors this year, blanking the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-0 Thursday night and tying the record for most in a single baseball season since 1900.
The Dodgers drew eight walks, getting at least one from each Cubs pitcher, but managed no other baserunners.
Davies (5-4) issued five walks and used 94 pitches to get through six innings against the defending World Series champions in the 16th start of his first season with the Cubs.
Chicago relievers Ryan Tepera and Andrew Chafin each walked a batter during their lone inning, but Los Angeles couldn’t capitalize.
Craig Kimbrel then walked Chris Taylor leading off the ninth, but the ferocious closer struck out Cody Bellinger, Albert Pujols and pinch-hitter Will Smith to finish the 17th no-hitter in Cubs history – the team’s first combined effort.
“I think they all needed to get a walk in, just to make my heart rate go up a little bit,” Cubs manager David Ross said.
“You get to the ninth, I don’t know I’ve been as nervous in a long time with a 4-0 lead and Craig Kimbrel on the mound as I was tonight.”
Javier Baez homered in the first inning and Willson Contreras added a two-run shot in the sixth for the Cubs, who happily celebrated the franchise’s first no-hitter since last Sept. 13, when Alec Mills blanked Milwaukee.
The seventh no-hitter of this highly unusual season was the first since May 19. The Boston Red Sox also took a bid for a combined no-hitter into the eighth inning earlier Thursday, but lost the no-no and the game at Tampa Bay.
With this no-hitter – the 312th in baseball history – 2021 matches 1990, 1991, 2012 and 2015 for the most in a single MLB season since 1900. That’s one shy of the record eight in 1884, the first season overhand pitching was allowed.
“This is an awesome moment,” Davies said. “The World Series, I think something like that probably tops it. But even though it wasn’t solo and it was a combined effort, being a part of history is something special.”
Davies said each of his three relievers claimed they had no idea they were working on a combined no-hitter until after they threw their respective innings.
“I think every pitcher wants to continue in the game, regardless of his pitch count, but it worked,” Davies said. “Chafe, Tep and Craig shut the door. A part of history. I’m excited for the guys that were on the field. I can’t complain at all.”
The Cubs actually did something that’s been much harder than throwing a no-hitter over the past two seasons: They beat Walker Buehler, who hadn’t lost in 23 straight regular-season starts.
Buehler took his first loss since Sept. 21, 2019, for the Dodgers despite throwing six innings of five-hit ball. Buehler made it through six innings for the 17th straight start, but lost his streak of 30 straight games overall without a defeat.
One night after getting swept by the San Diego Padres for the first time since 2013, the Dodgers were overmatched against the Cubs, who also swept a three-game series from Los Angeles last month.
The Dodgers hadn’t been no-hit since Aug. 30, 2015, when they were blanked in Chavez Ravine by the Cubs’ Jake Arrieta – who is scheduled to pitch for Chicago on Friday night.
Davies bounced back sharply after yielding a career-high eight runs in his last start against Miami. Those eight runs matched the number he had allowed in his previous six starts combined, and he regained his excellent form at Dodger Stadium.
Davies still had control issues in Chavez Ravine, however. He walked two batters in the first before getting Pujols to ground out to end the inning.
He walked the leadoff batter in the third and fourth, but avoided any other trouble. The fifth inning was his first 1-2-3 frame, and he retired the Dodgers in order in the sixth as well.
The Dodgers got closest to a hit in the first inning when Taylor’s line drive to centre was caught by Rafael Ortega.
Davies has never thrown a complete game in his seven-year major league career, which began with five seasons in Milwaukee before he moved to San Diego last year.
Tepera, the busiest reliever in Chicago’s solid bullpen, walked Gavin Lux with two outs in the seventh. Austin Barnes lined out to second to end another hitless inning.
Chafin walked Mookie Betts with one out, but Max Muncy hit a grounder right to first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who stepped on the bag and threw to second for an easy double-play.
The previous combined no-hitter in the majors was Aug. 3, 2019, when Aaron Sanchez and three Houston relievers blanked Seattle 9-0.
Buehler (7-1) took a no-hitter into the eighth inning last Saturday in Arizona, where he tied the Dodgers’ franchise record for consecutive regular-season starts without a loss. He made it through six innings Thursday for the 15th time this season, but he has still never beaten the Cubs.
Baez followed his 17th homer of the season by cupping his hand to his ear as he returned to the Chicago dugout, getting a loud chorus of jeers along with cheers from the Cubs’ sizable fan contingent in Los Angeles. Buehler recovered and stayed out of trouble until the sixth, when Contreras took him deep.
Chicago added another run in the seventh when Jason Heyward singled and scored on Jake Marisnick’s single off David Price.
Cubs: 2B Nico Hoerner (left hamstring strain) faced live pitching in the bullpen. ... LHP Justin Steele (right hamstring strain) threw a bullpen. He’s headed to Triple-A Iowa for a rehab assignment after five weeks out.
Dodgers: Betts returned from a bout of stomach flu and drew two walks. ... Justin Turner got a scheduled day off.
Tony Gonsolin (0-0, 3.00 ERA) hasn’t won since returning to the rotation, but the Dodgers are 3-0 in his starts. He’ll face Arrieta (5-8, 5.45), who is 0-4 with an 8.20 ERA in his last five starts for Chicago.