Rochester made history with a patchwork pitching effort Wednesday night as four hurlers combined on a nine-inning no-hitter in a 7-0 win over visiting Lehigh Valley.
"It's great to be part of history like that," said Red Wings reliever Jim Hoey, who closed out the ninth. "I'm really proud of our whole team."
It was the first no-hitter in International League history that involved four pitchers, the franchise's 25th -- a league record -- and the first no-hitter in Red Wings history to involve more than one pitcher.
The outing was starter Jeff Manship's first appearance with the Wings since suffering a shoulder injury May 15. He rejoined the club after pitching six frames in two rehab outings with the Gulf Coast League Twins.
With Manship on a pitch count and the Rochester bullpen depleted by Tuesday night's doubleheader, manager Tom Nieto and pitching coach Bobby Cuellar were hoping for a little help from a lot of sources.
Southpaw Jake Stevens, the Wings' first reliever, had just returned from Double-A New Britain, where he had allowed nine runs on 12 hits over seven innings in his last two games. Kyle Waldrop, who pitched the eighth Wednesday, had thrown an inning Monday and Tuesday. Right-handed closer Jim Hoey also threw 1 2/3 innings Tuesday night and came in to face a trio of left-handed-hitting IronPigs in the ninth.
Manship got off to a strong start in his return, retiring the first six batters he faced before issuing a leadoff walk to Lehigh Valley designated hitter Cody Overbeck in the third. The 26-year-old right-hander walked Brandon Moss with one out in the fourth, but neither IronPig reached second base.
"It was a great experience all around," said Manship, who threw fanned four, walked two and threw 51 pitches over four frames. "My shoulder feels good, and it was obviously exciting to be part of a no-hitter."
The Notre Dame product said his change-up was his most effective pitch Wednesday.
"[Lehigh Valley] had five lefties in a row in their lineup, so I mixed in my change particularly against them."
The Red Wings got on the board in the bottom of the fourth when Dustin Martin doubled in Delmon Young, who had reached on a throwing error by IronPigs second baseman Josh Barfield. After Brian Dinkleman walked, the pair executed a double steal that led to Martin scoring on Chase Lambin's sacrifice fly. Dinkleman later came home on shortstop Toby Gardenhire's RBI single to make it 3-0.
Stevens (1-1) took over in the fifth and retired his first six batters as well. After the Red Wings plated two more runs in the sixth, Stevens walked Lehigh Valley left fielder Brandon Moss to open the seventh. The 26-year-old southpaw fanned Jeff Larish and got groundouts from Delwyn Young and Barfield to end the threat. He fanned four and walked one over three innings, throwing an efficient 32 pitches -- 24 for strikes.
"Coming in, I felt more pressure just to preserve the [3-0] lead than to keep the no-hitter going," said Stevens, who earned the win. "The two runs [in the sixth] took the pressure off a little more. I think the fact that we were switching pitchers kind of took the pressure off each individual."
Waldrop replaced Stevens in the eighth. After Overbeck grounded out, Lehigh Valley catcher Dane Sardinha hit a sharp grounder to third that took a bad bounce and hit Lambin in the chest for an error. Lambin helped erase Sardinha by starting a 5-4-3 double play off the bat of the next hitter, Brian Bocock.
The Red Wings scored two more runs in the bottom of the eighth on doubles by Young and Martin and an RBI triple by veteran Jeff Bailey.
Taking the mound in the ninth, Red Wings closer Hoey said he felt a little pressure.
"But it's still the same ballgame. We were kind of thin on pitching and I was happy to get a chance to finish it out," he said.
Rich Thompson led off by grounding out to first, bringing big league veteran Pete Orr to the plate. The IronPigs third baseman ripped a 2-2 pitch into the hole between short and third -- "I thought it was a hit off the bat," Hoey said -- but Gardenhire made a sliding backhanded grab and threw Orr out at first.
"Gardy made a great play," said Hoey. "It just goes to show that it takes a whole team."
The last Rochester no-hitter was a seven-inning affair thrown by Dan Boone against Syracuse on July 23, 1990. It was the Red Wings' first nine-inning gem since Wayne Garland blanked Charleston on April 12, 1974 and the first time the IronPigs, now in their fourth season, had ever been held hitless.
Moss, who was 6-for-12 with two homers in his previous three games, was the final Lehigh Valley hitter. He grounded a 2-1 pitch softly to first, where Bailey took it to the bag to complete the gem.
Martin led the Red Wings offense with two doubles, three runs scored, two RBIs and a stolen base, while Lambin drove in three runs. Each Rochester starter had at least one hit.
Lehigh Valley starter Brian Bass fell to 4-6 after giving up five runs -- two earned -- on eight hits over six innings. The right-hander, who pitched for Rochester in 2007-'08, fanned four and walked a pair.