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Updated: Thursday, June 12, 2003 12:35 AM EDT
MLB RECAP
Houston Astros
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Stats: Batting | Pitching
R H E
8 14 1
New York Yankees
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Stats: Batting | Pitching
R H E
0 0 1
W Lidge (4-0)
L Weaver (3-5)
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HOUSTON 8, NY YANKEES 0
 

BRONX, New York (Ticker) -- What seemed like a bit of good fortune turned into the latest nightmare for the New York Yankees .

After Roy Oswalt went down with a strained groin in the second inning, five relievers combined to polish off a no-hitter as the Houston Astros added to the Yankees' troubles with an 8-0 triumph.

The contest featured the most pitchers ever used in a no-hitter and marked the first time that the Yankees have been held hitless in a contest since September 20, 1958. That is a span of 6,980 games - the longest stretch in major league history.

"It is definitely embarrassing," Yankees first baseman Todd Zeile said. "I've been playing long enough to know what that feeling is like. We had no patience, no discipline. We helped them a lot."

"My team has never been no-hit on any level," said Yankees captain Derek Jeter . "It's embarrassing. If you're not embarrassed by it, then there is something wrong with you. ... It can't get any worse than it was today."

Oswalt cruised through the opening inning but suffered the injury pitching to the first batter in the second. Already trailing 2-0, New York figured to have better success against Houston's middle relievers.

But Peter Munro came on and went 2 2/3 innings, working around three walks. Kirk Saarloos got four straight outs before giving way to Brad Lidge (4-0), who worked two perfect innings and notched the win.

"It's the highlight of my career," Lidge said. "It's obviously something I'll always remember. I'd like a game ball, we'll see... Billy (Wagner) kept the last one for himself. It's just an incredible game at Yankee Stadium against their lineup. It's like it was meant to happen."

Octavio Dotel struck out four batters in the eighth and closer Wagner - pitching in a non-save situation - completed the first Houston no-hitter since the late Darryl Kile accomplished the feat on September 8, 1993 against the New York Mets .

"I'll be honest with you, I didn't know about it until the seventh inning," Houston manager Jimy Williams said. "You can't expect to no-hit a major league team, let alone the Yankees. Every now and then, one or two guys circled the wagons, but not six."

After Wagner struck out the first two batters in the ninth, he induced Hideki Matsui to bounce weakly to first baseman Jeff Bagwell for the final out. As Bagwell flipped to Wagner covering, a subdued celebration took place.

"I faced three tough hitters," Wagner said. "What greater place can there be to do this. This place is the history book. It was nerve-wracking in the ninth after having to watch the other guys. But it is a great experience. I didn't notice the crowd because I couldn't hear myself over my heart. It was about to pound from my chest."

"It didn't matter that they had no hits, I lost my starting pitcher in the second inning and that's why I used Dotel and Wagner," Williams added.

It is the second no-hitter this season. Philadelphia's Kevin Millwood accomplished the feat against San Francisco on April 27.

Houston entered the game with the second-best bullpen ERA in the major leagues but also has logged the second-most innings. They managed to piece together the first combined no-hitter since Francisco Cordova and Ricardo Rincon accomplished the feat for Pittsburgh on July 12, 1997 - coincidentally against Houston.

There had been two other no-hitters that featured four pitchers, the first by the Oakland Athletics on September 28, 1975 and most recently by the Baltimore Orioles on July 13, 1991.

The last time the Yankees were no-hit, manager Joe Torre had not even begun his major league playing career. Knuckleballer Hoyt Wilhelm , then with Baltimore, accomplished the feat in a 1-0 triumph on that September day in 1958.

New York had not been no-hit at home since Virgil Trucks of Detroit did it on August 25, 1952.

The Yankees, who have gone 10-18 since a 26-10 start, have come under increased scrutiny of late. In Wednesday's game, they came close to a hit just twice - on a slow roller to third base by Juan Rivera in the third inning and a line drive by Alfonso Soriano in the fifth in which left fielder Lance Berkman made a nice diving catch.

"I had no idea about the no-hitter at that time," Berkman said of the catch. "Nobody mentioned it. It probably looked like a tougher catch than it was. I was medium depth. He took a big swing but it didn't jump of his bat. He got jammed or hit it off the end. It wasn't shoe-string, I just had to get low enough to get on even level with the ball. I'm sure I looked pretty awkward."

After Matsui grounded out for the first out in the seventh, the Yankees did not make much contact at all. Lidge struck out the final two batters in that inning, Dotel dominated in the eighth and Wagner got Jorge Posada and pinch hitter Bubba Trammell to open the ninth.

"It feels good," Dotel said. "I'm happy with myself, I'm happy with what we did. You're not going to see that a lot, six pitchers, a no-hitter... It's not easy to see. I got my inning and I did my thing. The no-hitter wasn't in my mind at all when I was on the mound. I'm doing my job and showing people what I can do. I knew about it, but I put no extra pressure on myself."

"It's not a good feeling, you got to remember this feeling," said Jeter, who was named captain on June 3 in an attempt to get the team headed in the right direction. "Right now we're being kicked while we're down."

Houston got a run in the opening inning as Craig Biggio doubled and scored on a wild pitch by Yankees starter Jeff Weaver (3-5). Oswalt struck out the final two batters in the bottom of the inning and Houston tacked on a run in the second as Orlando Merced tripled and scored on former Yankee Jose Vizcaino 's sacrifice fly.

Oswalt threw a strike and a ball to Posada then left with the injury. The 27-year-old Munro - a New York area native who left 15 tickets for family and friends - came on and walked the Yankees' catcher.

Munro retired the next five batters but third baseman Geoff Blum booted an grounder, Jeter was walked on four pitches and Jason Giambi was hit by a pitch. Munro fell behind Posada 3-0 but the Yankees' catcher was given the green light and grounded out to first.

"I wasn't loose at all, but I still managed to get the job done," Munro said. "It's an amazing feeling. I'm glad to be a part of it. I always was (joked with) as a kid growing up for being a Mets fan. I guess this is a little payback. The bullpen is really pumped."

A two-run homer by Berkman in the third pushed the lead to 4-0.

After Saarloos came one with a man aboard and two outs in the fourth and retired Raul Mondesi , he easily got through the fifth. Lidge took over in the sixth and breezed through the next two innings.


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