LOS ANGELES -- When is a no-hitter not a no-hitter?
Mark Gardner of the Montreal Expos will spend the rest of his career wondering about that after holding the Dodgers hitless for nine innings last night before giving up two hits in the 10th to lose, 1-0.
Before a crowd of 38,957, Gardner became the first opposing pitcher to throw nine innings of a no-hitter at Dodger Stadium . . . but the fourth opposing pitcher to lose a game there this week.
Lenny Harris beat out a slow bouncer over the mound for an infield hit on Gardner's first pitch in the 10th, breaking up the no-hitter. Two pitches later, Eddie Murray lined a single to right field to force Gardner from the game.
Reliever Jeff Fassero fell behind 2-0 to Darryl Strawberry, who then lined a single to left to score Harris with the winning run.
"I had a great game, but I don't feel good about it," Gardner said. "It's still a loss. It was a great accomplishment, still a loss."
No wonder Gardner (5-7) had left the field so quickly and quietly after Brett Butler ended the ninth inning with a grounder to second baseman Delino DeShields.
While the crowd gave him a standing ovation, perhaps thinking they had just seen a no-hitter, Gardner sat in the dugout with a towel over his head, as if knowing they had seen nothing more than a good, but unfinished pitching performance. And he knew he was tired.
"They all congratulated me, but I knew it wasn't over," said Gardner, who walked two and struck out four in nine-plus innings. "I was coming out of the game in the 10th, I just didn't have it anymore."
According to Elias Sports Bureau, baseball's official statistician, Gardner becomes merely another pitcher with nine innings of a no-hitter. The Expos, who have had two pitchers throw only five innings and credited with no hitters, now have a pitcher who has thrown nine innings of a no-hitter and credited with nothing.
"All I can say is, you saw it, you have to believe it, quite a game," Dodgers manager Tom Lasorda said. "I feel bad for that young guy, he pitched a hell of a ball game.
"But all I'm concerned with is, we scored that run. Thank God for small favors."
In an odd footnote, the Dodgers pitchers allowed fewer hits than the Expos did. Orel Hershiser, Kevin Gross and Jay Howell combined to allow two singles, with Howell getting the victory while Hershiser drew raves by allowing only one hit in six scoreless innings.
One of the biggest winners was Dr. Frank Jobe, who performed shoulder surgery on Gardner and Hershiser last year.
"I'm going to be mad at Dr. Jobe if he doesn't put an outing like that in my shoulder," Hershiser said, referring to Gardner.
Gardner, 29, a former Fresno State State star in his second full season, was making his 15th start since recovering from arthroscopic shoulder surgery last winter.
To say he had no credentials to throw a no-hitter is an understatement.
Before the game, he had 12-18 career record. He had a 4-12 career record in games played in the United States.
His low-hit game was a four-hitter. He had three career complete games.