6/13 Lilly flirts with history

Ted Lilly took a no-hitter into the ninth and the Cubs survived a late-inning threat to post a 1-0 Interleague victory over the White Sox in front of 40,456 crazed hockey and baseball fans. Lilly (2-5) and White Sox starter Gavin Floyd (2-7) matched each other with hitless innings through six. But with two outs in the Cubs seventh, Alfonso Soriano smacked a clean double to left and scored on Chad Tracy’s single to center.

“I told [Lilly] after the game I was having flashbacks to 2004 when I played in a perfect game with [Randy Johnson],” Tracy said. “It just so happened I drove in the only run in that game, too. I was hoping he’d get it so I could have another lineup card and another story to tell my grandkids.”

Pinch-hitter Juan Pierre ended Lilly’s no-hit bid when he singled to center to lead off the ninth, lining an 0-1 slider. Lilly struck out three, walked one and hit two batters.

“I was just looking for something out over the plate and he threw it there and I put a good swing on it,” Pierre said. “I knew he was going to throw strikes pretty much. I just got a pitch he probably wants back, but I did put a good swing on it and broke it up.”

Lilly was pulled after the hit and 108 pitches. He received a standing ovation as he walked off the field.

“It was unbelievable,” Lilly said. “There was so much energy. I can’t remember that much energy — I guess I’d have to go back to 2001 and the World Series and some of those big late inning game-winning homers and you get that kind of feeling. It was awesome and really special.”

This was the fifth time Lilly has held an opponent hitless through the first six innings of a game, and first time since last season’s home opener against Colorado, April 13, 2009. The last time he flirted with a no-no was April 27, 2002, against Seattle when he went 7 1/3 innings without giving up a hit.

The win didn’t come easy. After Pierre singled and Lilly exited, closer Carlos Marmol entered and walked Andruw Jones. He was then called for a balk. Marmol explained that he hit his leg on purpose with the ball because he didn’t want to throw the pitch.

“The walk to Jones and then the balk and I said, ‘Oh, [shoot],'” Piniella said.

The game got off to a rousing start as the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks were toasted prior to the game, parading the silver trophy around the ballpark to their signature tune, “Chelsea Dagger,” and posing for a photo on the mound with both the Cubs and White Sox players and staff.

“It’s funny because we talked about it when the Blackhawks were walking around the field,” catcher Koyie Hill said. “I said to Teddy, ‘Let’s do that.’ There was a little extra buzz in the air and you see how much fun [the Blackhawks] were having, it kind of carries over to what we’re doing. I’m sure over there on the other side of the field, too. That was neat. There was a little more energy. It felt like something special was going to happen.”

What did Hill want to do — win the Stanley Cup or catch a no-hitter?

“Either one and you’re champs,” Hill said. “You want to be a champ in the show, that’s what you have to do.”

– Carrie Muskat

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