ATLANTA (AP) — Sean Newcomb came within one strike of pitching the first no-hitter by the Atlanta Braves since 1994, denied when Chris Taylor sharply singled in a 4-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday.
Newcomb had a 2-2 count with two outs in the ninth inning when Taylor hit a hard grounder beyond the reach of diving third baseman Johan Camargo. That came on the career-high 134th and final pitch by the 25-year-old lefty.
Newcomb (10-5) left to a thunderous standing ovation from the sellout crowd at SunTrust Park as manager Brian Snitker removed him. Snitker took the ball and gave it back to Newcomb as a keepsake — instead, Newcomb simply tossed it toward the Atlanta dugout as he walked off, wanting no souvenir of the near-miss.
Kent Mercker was the last Atlanta pitcher to throw a no-hitter, doing it 24 years ago at Dodger Stadium. There have been three no-hitters in the majors this year.
Newcomb struck out eight and walked one against the NL West leaders. He retired the first 15 batters before walking Yasiel Puig to begin the sixth, and that was the only runner Newcomb permitted until the ninth. Shortstop Dansby Swanson made the defensive play of the day for Atlanta, ranging into shallow center field to snare a popup by Enrique Hernandez in the second.
A first-round draft pick of the Los Angeles Angels in 2014, Newcomb was traded to Atlanta after the 2015 season in a deal for shortstop Andrelton Simmons. Newcomb had previously pitched a no-hitter — a seven-inning performance for the University of Hartford.
Dan Winkler relieved Newcomb and gave up Manny Machado’s RBI single before ending it on Matt Kemp’s groundout.
Nick Markakis homered and drove in three runs as the Braves snapped a four-game skid. Newcomb has been an elixir this year in such situations, improving to 8-1 with a 1.84 ERA, a span of 73 1/3 innings, following an Atlanta loss.
Pitching past the seventh for the first time in 40 career starts, Newcomb worked fast, mixing a fastball in the low 90s mph with sharp breaking balls. This is his second season in the majors, having gone 4-9 in 19 starts last year.
The fans let out a collective groan after Taylor’s hit, but that quickly turned to raucous applause. Snitker popped out of the dugout as soon as Taylor touched first, took the ball from Newcomb and congratulated him.
After tossing aside the ball, Newcomb smiled and tipped his cap as he walked to the dugout to high-five and hug his teammates.
Newcomb was staked to a 2-0 lead in the first on doubles by Markakis and Kurt Suzuki and kept the Dodgers off-balance all afternoon. Markakis, the NL leader in hits and multi-hit games, made it 4-0 in the third with his 11th homer.
Machado’s RBI was as good as the Dodgers, who won the first three games of the series by a combined 17-4 score, could muster.
Atlanta had dropped 13 of 18, was outscored 26-7 during the losing streak and had dropped 10 of their last 14 home games.
Ross Stripling (8-3) was subpar in his second straight start, allowing four runs, seven hits and one walk with five strikeouts in four innings. Stripling, a first-time All-Star, gave up seven hits and five runs, a season high, in a no-decision that the Dodgers lost last week at Philadelphia.
Braves TV broadcaster Joe Simpson spoke with Dodgers veteran Chase Utley before the game, meeting in a clubhouse office for approximately 10 minutes following his on-air criticism of Utley and his teammates for wearing T-shirts and shorts in batting practice Saturday. During a fifth-inning package about the Dodgers’ pregame attire, Simpson said some players “looked very unprofessional” because they weren’t dressed in apparel approved by Major League Baseball.
After they parted ways Sunday morning, Simpson and Utley declined to speak with reporters. Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts was pleased when told that Simpson met with Utley, but also expected a direct apology from the broadcaster. “To take a shot at him and our guys, I just thought it was unfair,” Roberts said.
Dodgers: RHP Kenta Maeda (7-5, 3.27 ERA) will try to win his third straight decision as Los Angeles opens a four-game home series Monday against Milwaukee. Maeda allowed four runs and six hits in seven innings of a no-decision in his last start, a 7-4 loss at Philadelphia last Tuesday.
Braves: RHP Julio Teheran (7-7, 4.42) will try to improve on a 5.24 ERA in four starts this month as Atlanta opens a three-game home series Monday against Miami.
(@Copyright 2018. The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)