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Humber loses no-hitter in ninth08/22/2007 11:55 PM ET
By Steve Conley / Special to MLB.com
Philip Humber was in uncharted territory -- for himself and his parent organization.
Humber came within two outs of a no-hitter Wednesday, settling for a no-decision as the New Orleans Zephyrs edged the Iowa Cubs, 4-3, in 10 innings.
The former first-round draft pick retired 15 straight batters heading into the ninth, then got Carlos Rojas to pop out. On his 123rd pitch, he gave up a single to pinch-hitter John Nelson.
"I threw two breaking balls to start off and then a fastball away that he was able to put a good swing on," Humber said.
"After the fifth or sixth inning, you try to bear down a little more. The coaches asked me how I felt in the seventh, and I felt pretty good at that point. I hadn't gone into the ninth inning yet this year and I started to tire a little. Maybe I tried to do a little too much."
Humber left with a 3-0 lead, but Ambiorix Burgos promptly surrendered an RBI double to Eric Patterson before Buck Coats and Geovany Soto delivered run-scoring hits to tie the game for the Cubs (72-60).
Selected third overall by the Mets in the 2004 draft, Humber tried not to worry about the prospect of throwing a no-hitter, given his last outing.
"Last time out, I hadn't allowed any hits through three innings and I didn't make it out of the fourth inning in that game, so I tried not to worry about it too much," the Rice University product said.
Humber, who appeared in two games for New York last September, mixed a steady diet of breaking balls with his fastball to record a season-high 10 strikeouts and lower his ERA to 4.43.
"I had a really good breaking ball tonight and I was locating the fastball in the zone, which is something I hadn't been doing lately. It's something to build on," he said.
Humber is looking forward to a possible return to the Major Leagues this September.
"I'm just ready to do whatever the team wants. Hopefully, if it happens, I can go out and do the best I can and help the team win games," he said.
Brian Powell pitched the Zephyrs' last no-hitter on May 6, 2001, but the Mets have never had a no-hitter in their 46-year history.
Fernando Tatis smacked a one-out double in the bottom of the 10th before David Newhan, who went 0-for-4 to end a 22-game hitting streak, walked and Chip Ambres was intentionally walked to load the bases. Andy Tracy coaxed a five-pitch walk from Clay Rapada (6-2) as New Orleans (67-65) climbed to within a game of first-place Albuquerque (67-63) in the Pacific Coast League South Division.
Ivan Maldonado (2-1) got the win, allowing a hit and fanning two in a scoreless 10th.
Tracy went 3-for-4 with a solo homer, his 22nd, and Ambres chipped in two hits for the Zephyrs.
Rapada (6-2) was charged with a run on a hit and three walks, retiring one of the five batters he faced. Cubs starter J.R. Mathes gave up three runs on seven hits while striking out five and walking three over six innings.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.