BY GEORGE RICHARDS
With one out in the seventh inning, Colorado shortstop Troy Tulowitzki's hard shot up the middle hit Anibal Sanchez in the right leg, the ball heading toward first base.
Those inside Sun Life Stadium gasped, hoping that line drive wouldn't be the end of Sanchez's chance at a second no-hitter. Sanchez recovered, picking up the ball three steps from first before beating Tulowitzki to the bag, keeping his no-hit bid going.
Sanchez's attempt at history ended up coming up short as Dexter Fowler led off the ninth inning with a soft grounder past second base. The ball harmlessly rolled into right field, ending Sanchez's quest for the fifth no-hitter in franchise history and first since Sanchez beat the Diamondbacks here in 2006.
All was not lost however: Sanchez ended up finishing the game, his one-hitter helping the Marlins to a 4-1 win over the Rockies. The win was Florida's fourth straight after sweeping the Pirates earlier this week.
“I feel OK, just so excited because my mom in the stands, my family there,'' Sanchez said afterward. “If everything had happened good, if the ball got to someone and we got the out, it would have ended a different way. But I'm OK, I'm excited for the opportunity. Long term, I'm back three years from injury. Now I have to keep working so I'm ready every five days.''
Florida manager Edwin Rodriguez was keeping track of Sanchez's pitch count but said he was going to let him keep going as long as the no-hitter was. The pitch that ended up breaking the no-hitter – as well as breaking Fowler's bat – was Sanchez's 116th of the night. Rodriguez let him stay in to finish things off. Fowler ended up getting doubled up after Jonathan Herrera's fly ball was caught by a diving Scott Cousins.
Sanchez was able to get the final out as first baseman Gaby Sanchez fielded a grounder from Carlos Gonzalez and flipped the ball as Anibal Sanchez covered the bag.
The game was obviously Anibal Sanchez's best game of the season as he went nine complete, striking out nine. His chance at a perfect game was lost early on as Fowler walked to lead off the game. Colorado's lone run came off a Gaby Sanchez error with two outs in the first.
Anibal Sanchez is now 1-1 as he watched his ERA drop from 5.51 to 3.55.
“I didn't want to ask him how he felt, so I was just going hitter by hitter,'' Rodriguez said of Anibal Sanchez's outing. “He was just outstanding. Every area of the game, he was just excellent. He has a very strong mental approach to the game. They scored a run in the first off an error and it's tough to keep your composure. He did.''
Rodriguez and the Marlins have watched their pitchers go through this three times this season. Ace Josh Johnson – who pitches the series finale on Sunday – had a no-hitter through the sixth on Opening Day against the Mets. Johnson followed that up by pitching 7 1/3 no-hit innings against the Braves on April 13.
“We have five, six months to go,'' Rodriguez joked about when the Marlins would complete a no-hitter this season. “Chances are we might see one. I'll take two.''
The last person to throw a no-hitter at Sun Life Stadium was Philadelphia's Roy Halladay, who pitched a perfect game against the Marlins on May 5, 2010. Halladay is also the last person to throw a no-hitter in the big leagues as he got one against the Reds in the opening round of the National League playoffs last October.
On Friday, Chris Coghlan and Gaby Sanchez helped Anibal Sanchez out offensively as each led off innings with home runs to help give their pitcher a 4-1 lead by the third inning.
The Marlins, who came into Thursday's game with eight home runs in their opening 16 games, have five in the past two games -- or 38 percent of their season total. After the Rockies took the early lead, Coghlan tied the score in the bottom of the first when he deposited Jhoulys Chacin's offering into the orange seats beyond right field.
The Marlins added two more in the second thanks in big part to a drive hit to center field by Emilio Bonifacio. With Scott Cousins at first and one out, Bonifacio drilled a shot to center, the ball bouncing into the stands.
Anibal Sanchez, who hasn't had a base hit yet this season, came up next and dropped a soft bunt toward Chacin. Chacin fielded the ball cleanly but rushed the throw home by flipping it to catcher Chris Iannetta without taking the ball out of his glove. Iannetta couldn't handle the throw as Cousins slid in safely. Bonifacio later scored on Coghlan's force out.
Gaby Sanchez then made it 4-1 in the third by hitting the first pitch offered into the teal club seats overlooking left field. The homer was Gaby Sanchez's second this season (he hit 19 as a rookie last year). Sanchez has now reached base in 22 straight games.
“I don't know if we didn't get the run whether it would have affected him,'' catcher John Buck said of the offensive support shown Anibal Sanchez. “Coghlan getting up and putting one over the fence right away did reset things and that helped. .-.-. I think Anibal was pretty much locked the whole day.''
Anibal Sanchez Goes into Ninth with No-No, but History does not Repeat ... Marlins Top Rockies 4-1 for Fourth Straight Win
BY GEORGE RICHARDS
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