CHICAGO - Francisco Liriano was running low on energy in the ninth inning. A no-hitter within reach but his pitch count climbing, he relied on teammates to help him complete the best game of his career.
When shortstop Matt Tolbert grabbed Adam Dunn’s liner for the final out, completing the Minnesota Twins’ 1-0 win over the Chicago White Sox, Liriano was mobbed on the mound.
“To be honest I was running out of gas,” he said. “I just thank my teammates that they made some great plays behind me tonight.”
Liriano (2-4) walked six and struck out two in his first complete game in 95 major league starts. The 27-year-old left-hander matched his career high with 123 pitches.
“I can’t explain it. I feel so nervous and so happy right now,” Liriano said. “I can’t explain my feeling right now.”
He survived a rocky ninth inning that began when Brent Morel grounded to shortstop and Matt Tolbert made a one-hop throw that first baseman Justin Morneau scooped. Juan Pierre walked and Alexei Ramirez popped to Tolbert.
Liriano fell behind Adam Dunn 3-0 in the count, then got a pair of strikes. After a foul ball, Dunn lined out to Tolbert.
“I thought it was a base hit,” Liriano said. “When I saw him catch it I was so excited.”
Dunn dropped to 0-for-16 against left-handers this season.
“As soon as I hit it, I saw him, and it was right to him,” Dunn said. “That’s pretty much the story of the day.”
Liriano, the reigning AL comeback player of the year, was backed by Jason Kubel’s fourth-inning homer. He threw just 66 pitches for strikes but kept Chicago off-balance in a game that took just 2 hours, 9 minutes.
In his previous start, he lasted just three innings in an 8-2 loss to Tampa Bay. The shutout lowered his ERA for the season from 9.13 to 6.61.
Edwin Jackson (2-4) lost his fourth straight start despite allowing six hits in eight innings. Then with Arizona, Jackson no-hit Tampa Bay last June 26 despite walking eight.
It was the seventh no-hitter for the Twins-Washington Senators franchise and the first since Eric Milton’s against the Angels on Sept. 11, 1999. It was the first no-hitter in the major leagues since Philadelphia’s Roy Halladay’s against Cincinnati in last year’s NL division series.
The White Sox were no-hit for the 13th time, the first since they were beaten by Kansas City’s Bret Saberhagen on Aug. 26, 1991.