No hits, no runs, no pressure for Beckett

The Dodgers' Josh Beckett is swarmed by teammates after the final out. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)
The Dodgers' Josh Beckett is swarmed by teammates after the final out. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)
Posted: May 27, 2014

Los Angeles Dodgers righthander Josh Beckett bucked the conventional baseball superstition by talking about a no-hitter as early as the fourth inning Sunday.

While pitchers usually sit alone in the dugout, Beckett was chatty, making jokes about his no-hitter until the extraordinary feat was finally accomplished.

Beckett finished it off by getting Chase Utley on a called third strike, earning his first career no-hitter in Sunday's 6-0 win over the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

"It's special," Beckett said to a large group of reporters afterward. "It is something that you certainly think about throughout your career."

Beckett said he talked about the no-hitter with his teammates throughout the game. There was a method to his madness.

"If he is going good or bad he will keep it loose and make fun of himself," catcher Drew Butera said. "He keeps it loose and doesn't want everybody thinking about it."

Of course, this strategy had the opposite effect on his catcher.

"I was a nervous wreck from the fourth inning on," Butera said. "Once he said that, I said, 'Great, way to bring it up.' "

At least Butera knew the drill. On May 3, 2011, Butera caught a no-hitter from Francisco Liriano, a 1-0 victory over the Chicago White Sox when both were with the Minnesota Twins.

"This is such a great feeling," Butera said. "These things don't happen every day; they happen once in a lifetime maybe."

In Butera's case, twice in a lifetime.

Beckett joked that he had never taken a no-hitter past the first inning, but he actually went 62/3 innings before having a no-hitter broken up when he was with Boston against Detroit on June 3, 2009. Curtis Granderson broke it up with a single.

Beckett, 34, had surgery last summer to remove a rib that caused a nerve issue in his hand. He is no longer purely a power pitcher, although he still throws hard. His 128th and final pitch that struck out Chase Utley looking was a 94-m.p.h. two-seam fastball.

"I sprinkled in some curves and changeups and really kept them off-balance," Beckett said. "That is a good-hitting team over there."

Beckett insisted that he wasn't thinking about the no-hitter on the mound, even when he needed just one more out with Utley at the plate.

"I was thinking of Chase Utley coming up and how good a baseball player he has been for the past 15 years," Beckett said. "I kind of composed myself and was thinking what I wanted to do with Chase."

Beckett recorded six strikeouts and walked three. The hardest hit ball came in the fifth inning when Domonic Brown's liner was caught by leftfielder Carl Crawford on the warning track.

"He crushed that ball and it sounded good off the bat for sure," Beckett said. "They hit three or four balls hard, but they were right at guys and you need a little luck."

Beckett is 3-1 with 2.43 ERA.

"It's great to kind of see him change himself as a pitcher, using the breaking ball more," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "It was fun to watch."

Beckett said he began the weekend playing golf at Pine Valley (he said he shot an 86). The weekend ended with the Dodgers' first no-hitter since Hideo Nomo fired one at Colorado on Sept. 17, 1996.

"I wonder if I am the first guy to play the No. 1 golf course in the country and throw a no-hitter," Beckett said with a laugh.


mnarducci@phillynews.com

@sjnard

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