OAKLAND — Baltimore Oriole pitcher Bob Milacki got a little help from his friends in the club's first no-hitter since 1969.
Milacki combined with three relievers to shut down the Oakland Athletics, 2-0, before 40,047 at the Oakland Coliseum.
The Oriole right-hander took a hard shot off his pitching hand in the sixth inning and had to turn the best performance of his career over to left-hander Mike Flanagan. Flanagan, Mark Williamson and Gregg Olson pitched an inning apiece, the Orioles tying a major league record for the most pitchers to combine for a no-hitter.
"I think that might be tougher than one guy doing it," said Oriole Manager John Oates, "because you have to have all four guys on their games. But, on the other hand, when it's only one pitcher, the hitters get to see the same guy three times."
It was the first Oriole no-hitter since Hall of Famer Jim Palmer pitched one against the A's on Aug. 13, 1969, at Baltimore.
Palmer was broadcasting the game Saturday.
"Today was a more difficult game than mine," Palmer said. "They didn't have the luxury of an eight-run lead. If you're pitching with a big lead, you might be able to pitch around a guy or two. In this game, every guy who gets on base creates a game-threatening situation. That Oakland ballclub is a good-hitting team. They (the four pitchers) should be very proud."
They were, but when Olson struck out Harold Baines to end the game, the reaction from the crowd and the Orioles bench was low-key. The Orioles walked to the mound to shake hands with Olson. Milacki already was in street clothes and did not go onto the field.
"I think it was kind of strange for them," Oakland Manager Tony La Russa said. "Everybody congratulated different people. Nobody knew who to shake hands with. But it all counts."
Milacki gave up three walks through the first six innings, the closest thing to a hit being the shot back through the middle by Willie Wilson that hit Milacki on the hand and forced him out of the game. The ball hit Milacki on the hand and upper left leg before bounding all the way to first base, where Randy Milligan picked it up and stepped on the bag for the second out of the inning. That brought Oates and trainer Richie Bancells to the mound, but Milacki took a few practice throws and stayed in the game.
He walked the next batter but struck out Jose Canseco to end the inning.
"He said he could still pitch," Oates said, "but once he got into the dugout, it started to swell up. Three of us (Milacki, Bancells and Oates) made the decision. He couldn't wrap his finger around the ball. He couldn't pitch."
Apparently, Milacki suffered a sprained knuckle on his right index finger, but he said after the game that he had wanted to continue.
"I thought I could still pitch with it," he said. "They didn't want me to risk it. I was very disappointed. You never want to come out of a game like that."
It was the third no-hitter in the major leagues this season. The Texas Rangers' Nolan Ryan pitched his seventh May 1, and the Philadelphia Phillies' Tommy Greene pitched one against the Montreal Expos on May 23.
The only other four-pitcher no-hitter in the majors was by Oakland's Vida Blue, Glenn Abbott, Paul Lindblad and Rollie Fingers on Sept. 28, 1975, against the Angels. The last multiple-pitcher no-hitter was thrown by Mark Langston and Mike Witt of the Angels in 1990.
In the seventh inning, Flanagan faced the heart of the Oakland order and gave up only a walk to Jamie Quirk.
Mark Williamson arrived in the eighth inning to face the bottom of the order, but had to get by pinch-hitter Rickey Henderson.
Dave Henderson led off the ninth with a ground ball into the hole at shortstop. Cal Ripken went far to his right to catch the ball and made a strong throw. Canseco struck out on a wicked Olson curveball before Baines struck out.