PITTSBURGH -- For eight innings, Dodgers left-hander Rich Hill was perfect. For nine innings, he was unhittable. But the Pirates' first hit was the only one they'd need.
Josh Harrison ripped a walk-off homer to the left field corner in the 10th inning, breaking up Hill's no-hit bid and giving the Pirates a wild 1-0 win over the Dodgers on Wednesday night at PNC Park. Harrison is the first player in Major League history to break up a no-hitter with an extra-inning, walk-off homer.
Hill carried a perfect game through seven innings against the Marlins last September, but manager Dave Roberts pulled him after 89 pitches, concerned over a recurring blister issue. The only concern Wednesday was the matching set of zeros on the scoreboard, as Pirates starter Trevor Williams held the Dodgers scoreless for eight innings.
"Today it is disappointing to make one bad pitch, but they played a great game, too," said Hill. "They pitched their tails off, and you can't discredit that."
Hill is the second pitcher to lose a no-hitter on a walk-off hit -- and should've been the second to lose such a game on a walk-off homer, instead of the first. In 1959, the Pirates' Harvey Haddix carried a perfect game into the 13th inning against the Braves in Milwaukee. After Felix Mantilla reached on an error to end the perfecto in the bottom of the 13th, Hank Aaron was walked intentionally. Joe Adcock slugged what should have been a walk-off homer, but Aaron, after touching second and seeing that Mantilla had crossed the plate, left the basepaths. Adcock passed Aaron and was called out. National League president Warren Giles ruled that Mantilla's run counted, Adcock was awarded a double, and the game was over, a 1-0 Braves victory.
The Dodgers stranded 10 runners on base in Williams' eight innings, going 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
"We had runners on base all night long," said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. "Williams kept making pitches, getting the ground ball when he needed."
So even as Hill carried a perfect game into the ninth inning, the Pirates were still alive. They were given an opening when third baseman Logan Forsythe booted Jordy Mercer's ground ball to begin the inning, ending Hill's perfect-game bid. Catcher Chris Stewart bunted Mercer over to second base, but Hill retired the next two hitters to force extra innings with the no-hitter still intact.
"It's a fantastic game. It just shows the beauty of the game and the things you can't draw up beforehand," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "Big effort from Williams. Wow. Possibly our hottest long-ball threat here for the last week, Harrison, keeps rolling. How cool was that?"
Pirates reliever Juan Nicasio worked a perfect 10th inning, preserving the scoreless tie. Up came Harrison. In his first three at-bats, he saw seven pitches from Hill, all fastballs. Harrison swung through a first-pitch fastball in the 10th, took another fastball and a curveball then readied himself for a heater. Harrison launched the 2-1 pitch, an 88.2-mph fastball hit a Statcast-projected 347 feet, just enough to sail over Curtis Granderson's glove and into the left-field seats.
Hill was also bit by a little bit of misfortune on the game-ending blast. Per Statcast™, Harrison's home run had an exit velocity of 94 mph and a launch angle of 33 degrees; similar batted balls have gone for a home run less than 10 percent of the time. Furthermore, the unlikely blast traveled a projected 347 feet, and just 2.5 percent of all homers are less than 350 feet.
It was not Harrison's first time interrupting history. In 2012, he broke up Justin Verlander's no-hit bid with a one-out single in the ninth.
"Try not to make it a habit," Harrison said, smiling. "We'd like to do it before we get to the later part of the game. Definitely a situation that I'm not unfamiliar with."
Hill, noted for his multi-angle curveballs, switched up and relied on his fastball in this game. According to Statcast™, Hill threw 64 percent 4-seamers (the rest curves), compared with a season average of 50 percent. He had 28 called strikes, which tied his season high. His 28.3-percent called-strike rate was his second-highest of the year (30.4 percent on July 1). The single-game high for anyone this year is 31 called strikes by Rick Porcello on Aug. 15. Hill got 19 of his called strikes tonight with his 4-seamer, and he got a season-high 13 on the first pitch.
"It's unfortunate for [Hill] it happened in the 10th inning," Williams said. "I still can't wrap my mind around that outing and what he did. It's great for us, there's no doubt about that."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Bunt and a blast: Six innings before ending the no-hitter, and the game, with a home run, Harrison tried to break up the perfect game with a bunt. It was arguably the Pirates' best chance for an early hit against Hill. Though he didn't put the ball on the ground, the speedy Harrison had a chance to reach safely if the ball fell in front of first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. But Gonzalez, herniated disk and all, slid and snagged the pop-up for the inning's second out. But Harrison said his previous at-bats against Hill helped him when he led off the 10th.
"The bunt, Gonzalez made a good play," Harrison said. "That last at-bat, four times seeing him, stuff wasn't as sharp as it was the first three at-bats. I felt I had him synced up pretty good that fourth at-bat. Got a pitch, didn't miss it."
Line drives denied: Bell led off the eighth inning against Hill with an 81.8-mph line drive that looked to be bound for the right-field grass. Chase Utley had other plans, however, laying out to snag Bell's liner and keep Hill's perfect-game bid intact.
"We were starting to smell it," said Roberts.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Dodgers had runners on first and second with two out and Forsythe at the plate. On the 10th pitch of the at-bat, Forsythe smacked a line drive to left, only for Pirates shortstop Mercer to leap and grab it, sending a scoreless tie into the ninth inning. The Dodgers finished 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position, stranding 11.
"I thought Logan's at-bat, that ball would get by Mercer," said Roberts. "We just couldn't push that one across."
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The Dodgers successfully challenged a safe call at first base when umpire Paul Emmel ruled that Josh Bell beat pitcher Hill to the bag on his grounder to first baseman Gonzalez leading off the bottom of the second inning. Hill claimed he tagged Bell on the chest, and the call was overturned.
"It's insane how baseball works. Baseball sucks at times. Baseball's weird. It's designed to break your heart. I'm so glad we hit the walk-off homer." -- Williams
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Hill became the first pitcher since Lefty Leifield of the 1906 Pirates to lose a game with at least nine innings pitched, one hit or less and zero walks, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
WHAT'S NEXT Dodgers:Hyun-Jin Ryu starts for the Dodgers in the 1:05 p.m. PT series finale Thursday as he continues his year-long tryout for the starting rotation. In his last eight starts, Ryu is 2-0 with a 2.22 ERA and 47 strikeouts in 44 2/3 innings. Nonetheless, if Clayton Kershaw, Yu Darvish, Alex Wood and Kenta Maeda are ever healthy at the same time, Ryu might get bumped from the rotation.
Pirates: The Pirates will finish this four-game series against the Dodgers on Thursday afternoon at PNC Park, with right-hander Chad Kuhl throwing out the first pitch at 4:05 p.m. ET. Kuhl overcame a nearly two-hour rain delay to throw five strong innings against the Cardinals on Saturday, allowing one run on three hits and striking out six. Kuhl has put together a 3.13 ERA in four starts this month.