Martinez makes them remember

July 16, 1995|By Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES -- Ramon Martinez's eyes started to swell with tears Friday night the moment the ball left Quilvio Veras's bat and dropped into left fielder Roberto Kelly's glove.

The Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher turned around, waited for catcher Mike Piazza, and leaped mightily into his arms, celebrating the most glorious night of his baseball career.

Martinez became the first pitcher this season to throw a no-hitter, shutting out the Florida Marlins, 7-0, with only an eighth-inning walk marring his bid for a perfect game.

The announced crowd of 30,998, some who viciously booed Martinez in his last start at Dodger Stadium, this time were screaming until their lungs hurt.

Martinez, letting the crowd know that all is forgiven, kept pumping his right fist into the air, over and over again, soaking in the affection. This was no time for bitterness.

"I have pride," said Martinez (9-6), "and I wanted to let people know that I can still pitch. You know something, I think people had forgotten about me."

No more.

Martinez, whose younger brother, Pedro Martinez of the Montreal Expos, pitched a perfect game for nine innings last month against the San Diego Padres before losing it in the 10th inning, will remain etched in the Dodger record book forever.

He becomes the 19th pitcher in franchise history, and the ninth since the team moved to Los Angeles, to throw a no-hitter. It's the first no-hitter in the major leagues since Kenny Rogers' no-hitter July 28, 1994, against the California Angels.

"I swear to God on my father's grave," Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda said, "I knew he was going to pitch a no-hitter. I told [coach Bill] Russell in the second inning, 'I'm going to tell you something after the game.' "

Why not tell him then?

"You kidding, I didn't want to chance it. I sat on the same seat during the game. I never moved. I never even went to the bathroom."

Said Dodgers outfielder Chris Gwynn, who was on the bench the entire game: "We were trying to be cool about it, acting as if nothing was happening. I thought we were home free until Rocket [pitcher Ismael Valdes] couldn't control his enthusiasm. Finally, I just said, 'Rocket, shut up, will you?' "

The crowd began sensing the no-hitter in the sixth inning. When Martinez struck out pinch-hitter Mario Diaz to end the inning, they gave a loud, rousing ovation.

The Dodgers, who broke the game open in the bottom of the sixth on Jose Offerman's bases-loaded triple, now worried whether they had taken too long to score. Martinez had not pitched for nearly 15 minutes when he took the mound in the seventh.

Martinez showed the effect of the long layoff when he fell behind 2-and-0 to Veras, his buddy whom he worked out with in the Dominican Republic during the strike. Veras then hit a ground ball to second baseman Delino DeShields for the first out. The rest was easy.

Chuck Carr, who attempted to bunt in the fourth inning, popped up to DeShields for the second out. Jeff Conine, the Most Valuable Player of the All-Star Game, then struck out on three pitches.

"I've been through it before when Dennis Martinez had his perfect game," DeShields said, "but you can't help but get nervous. You saw all of those zeros on the board, and you didn't want to be the one to mess it up."

In the eighth inning, it nearly happened.

Terry Pendleton swung on the first pitch and hit a long fly ball toward the gap in right-center. Rookie Todd Hollandsworth, making his first career start, kept running and didn't stop. He raised his glove, and caught the ball over his shoulder on the warning track.

Martinez, who had not thrown anything but a fastball since the third inning, came out in the ninth while the crowd roared. He looked at catcher Mike Piazza, and Piazza kept signaling for fastballs.

Charles Johnson went down swinging on four pitches.

Pinch-hitter Chuck Carr hit the first pitch, a grounder to DeShields, for the second out.

Veras, his buddy from the Dominican Republic, was up next. He was the last man standing in his way.

Veras, working the count to 2-2, then hit a lazy fly ball to Kelly. Kelly barely had to move. The ball dropped in his glove, and the celebration begun.

"I can't believe it, I just can't believe it," Martinez said. "It's something I'll never forget."

LATE ORIOLES GAME

Last night's Royals-Orioles game at Camden Yards did not end in time to be included in this edition. A complete report can be found in later editions. For a report on last night's game and other Orioles information, call Sundial at (410) 783-1800, ext. 5023 (in Anne Arundel County, call [410] 268-7736, ext. 5023).

ORIOLES TODAY

Opponent: Kansas City Royals

Site: Oriole Park at Camden Yards

Time: 1:35 p.m.

TV/Radio: HTS/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Royals' TBA vs. Orioles' Jamie Moyer (4-3, 3.83)

# Tickets: 400 remain

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