ATLANTA -- Sean Newcomb knew something was brewing in the seventh inning in what would become a tantalizingly close run at history in the Braves' 4-1 win over the Dodgers on Sunday afternoon.As he walked into the dugout after getting Matt Kemp and Enrique Hernandez to fly out for the
ATLANTA -- Sean Newcomb knew something was brewing in the seventh inning in what would become a tantalizingly close run at history in the Braves' 4-1 win over the Dodgers on Sunday afternoon.
As he walked into the dugout after getting Matt Kemp and Enrique Hernandez to fly out for the final two outs of the inning, Newcomb walked straight down to his part of the bench and sat down -- the same path he had taken six times before on Sunday. But the seventh time was different.
No one said anything to him.
"Everyone was dodging me as I walked in the dugout," Newcomb said.
And that's because Newcomb was on the road to remembrance. Having held a high-powered Dodgers offense hitless to that point, he just had to outlast it for six more outs.
And as the outs trickled by for Newcomb, he knew he wanted to continue.
"I got more excited, for sure [as the game went on]," Newcomb said. "I wanted to stay in there and get outs and keep it going."
But Braves manager Brian Snitker made no move to replace Newcomb. Despite Newcomb hitting his career high in pitch count in the eighth inning, Snitker felt his young hurler still had everything that he needed to get to the end of the ninth. And he almost did.
One out -- one strike, in fact -- was all that stood between Newcomb and the third no-hitter in Atlanta history.
But on a 2-2 count, Dodgers leadoff man Chris Taylor laced a 94-mph fastball into the hole between third and short for a single and the only hit off Newcomb at a delirious SunTrust Park.
When asked about that moment, Newcomb paused. There were too many emotions running through his head.
"A little bit of everything," Newcomb said. "I was happy to have gotten to that point, but then annoyed that it was just a ground ball through the hole."
Newcomb's historic day started out with the 25-year-old retiring the first 15 batters he faced, his one flaw in an otherwise perfect outing coming when he walked Yasiel Puig to lead off the sixth inning.
And when it was seen that there was no action in the bullpen after Newcomb struck out the last batter of the eighth inning, fans of SunTrust Park -- who have never seen a no-hitter at the ballpark before -- knew Newcomb had the chance to go the distance.
With more life on his fastball as the game progressed, Newcomb rode the wave of a no-hitter, remaining consistent with his velocity too.
"That delivery was working -- he could have thrown 160 pitches today and been fine," Snitker said. "As evidence to the last hitter, he got up to 95. He had some of his best velocity."
Prior to Sunday, the most pitches Newcomb had thrown was 111 against the Reds at the end of June. Sunday, he threw 134 en route to a mesmerizing performance that nearly snapped Atlanta's 24-year no-hitter drought. Newcomb became the first pitcher to lose a no-hitter with two outs in the ninth since the Tigers' Matthew Boyd last September vs. the White Sox. The last time a Braves pitcher came so close to a no-no was Shelby Miller, who lost his bid for history with two outs in the ninth vs. the Marlins on May 17, 2015.
"He's a guy you have to think, 'Get out in front, be on time,'" Taylor said of Newcomb. "He was throwing it by guys all day. … Never saw his velo drop."
Newcomb was pulled after Taylor's single, giving way to reliever Dan Winkler, who gave up an RBI single from Manny Machado for the Dodgers' lone run. The last pitcher to throw more pitches in a game was Timothy Lincecum back on July 13, 2013, in his 148-pitch no-hitter against the Padres.
"I just kept going," Newcomb said, "waiting for someone to tell me I was done."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Markakis takes stand: Though the Braves got a lift from their starter, their offense also needed a spark after a near lifeless performance on Saturday night. And on Sunday afternoon, that spark came in the form of Nick Markakis.
Over the span of a four-game losing streak entering Sunday's finale, the Braves' offense had a difficult time stringing together consecutive hits -- or scoring many runs for that matter. In their last four games, the Braves were outscored, 26-7, and had a team batting average of .175 with 33 strikeouts. Led by the veteran Markakis, Atlanta rediscovered some offensive rhythm.
The Braves took a 2-0 lead with two outs in the first inning with back-to-back RBI doubles to left field from Markakis and Kurt Suzuki. In Saturday night's 5-1 loss, the Braves garnered just three hits. On Sunday afternoon, they had three hits by the end of the first. And a two-run home run by Markakis in the bottom of the third led to a 3-for-4 afternoon and gave Newcomb enough security to cruise to one of the best pitching performances in Braves history.
For the eighth time this season, Newcomb pulled the Braves out of a rut. After Sunday's gem, Newcomb moved to 8-1 with a 1.84 ERA in 12 games following a Braves loss.
HE SAID IT
"[I] just battled him, honestly. I was the only guy that got him a fourth time around. He's got a really good fastball and I just wanted to be on time. If he got me with offspeed, fine. But he was going after guys with the high heater and I was just thinking, 'Stay above it.'" -- Taylor, on ending the no-no
"Oh man, I was crushed. It felt like we lost after that. It felt like a walk-off hit. We were really close, but he is the type of pitcher who is going to be there again." -- Suzuki, on coming so close
"[I told him] just how proud I was of him. I commended him on the fact that he got the ball and went after them. He wasn't trying to trick anybody, he was going one-on-one with them, just trying to let the best man win." -- Snitker, on Newcomb's effort
The Braves will welcome the Marlins to SunTrust Park for the opener of a two-game series at 7:35 p.m. ET on Monday. The clubs split a two-game set last week, with the Braves taking the first game, 12-1. In a rematch of Tuesday's game at Marlins Park between the Julio Teheran and Wei-Yin Chen, Teheran will get another crack at the Marlins' lineup after giving up nine runs (seven earned) on seven hits through 4 1/3 innings, while Chen will bring his road ERA of 10.47 to Atlanta.
Tori McElhaney is a reporter for MLB.com based in Atlanta.