Washington Nationals right-hander Aníbal Sánchez lost his no-hit bid with two outs in the eighth inning on a clean single by St. Louis Cardinals pinch-hitter José Martínez in Game 1 of the NL Championship Series.
Martínez lined an 82 mph split-finger fastball into center field, spoiling Sánchez’s shot at the third no-hitter in postseason history. Two batters earlier, first baseman Ryan Zimmerman preserved the bid by diving to catch a line drive by Tommy Edman.
Nationals manager Dave Martínez pulled Sánchez after the hit and brought in left-hander Sean Doolittle. Sánchez struck out five, hit two batters and walked one on 103 pitches. The right-handed Sánchez waved to standing fans in St. Louis as he left the field.
Doolittle pitched cleanly out of the eighth to preserve a 2-0 lead. The Nationals are without closer Daniel Hudson, who was placed on paternity leave earlier Friday.
Sánchez retired his first 10 batters before Kolten Wong walked in the fourth for St. Louis’ first baserunner. He stole second and went to third on catcher Yan Gomes’ throwing error, but Marcell Ozuna fouled out to end the inning.
Sánchez got a break in the fifth when Matt Carpenter tipped a 1-2 pitch that bounced off the dirt and into Gomes’ mitt. Carpenter briefly argued the ball wasn’t caught cleanly, but it was ruled a strikeout — that play can’t be reviewed.
The 35-year-old Sánchez pitched a no-hitter as a rookie with the Florida Marlins in 2006. He also threw six hitless innings in the opener of the 2013 AL Championship Series for Detroit against Boston but was pulled after 116 pitches. The Tigers bullpen finished a one-hitter in a 1-0 victory.
Don Larsen threw a perfect game for the New York Yankees against Brooklyn in the 1956 World Series, and Roy Halladay pitched a no-hitter for the Philadelphia Phillies in the 2010 NL Division Series.