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Lilly disappointed for Cubs fans

The last time two pitchers who took no-hitters into the seventh inning were Florida’s Kevin Brown and San Francisco’s William VanLandingham on June 10, 1997. Brown completed the feat in a 9-0 win over the Giants.

Fate wasn’t with either the Cubs’ Ted Lilly or the White Sox’s Gavin Floyd on Sunday night.

Floyd’s no-hitter and shutout were wiped out by Alfonso Soriano’s seventh-inning, two-out double and Chad Tracy’s RBI single. That would be the only scoring of the night as the Cubs went on to a 1-0 win, avoiding a sweep. Lilly’s bid for a no-hitter ended after pinch-hitter Juan Pierre singled on a hanging slider to lead off the ninth.

“I was just looking for something out over the plate,” said Pierre. “He threw it and I put a good swing on it. He just got a pitch up that he probably wants back. But I put a good swing on it and ended up breaking it up.”

Lilly was extremely disappointed about not getting the job done for the team and the fans.

“Unfortunately I made a bad pitch,” Lilly said. “ In a situation like that, there is a tendency to second-guess my pitch selection. But it wasn’t a very good pitch, either.”

Lilly, who had a no-hit bid broken up after 7 1/3 innings against the Mariners on April 27, 2002 as a member of the Yankees, knew his flirtation with history, and his night pitching, were over after Pierre's hit.

“No question there’s a little bit of a let-down, said Lilly, “Then you kind of get over it and you realize you’re in a 1-0 game and you’ve got to find a way to win this game.”

Manager Lou Piniella took that decision away from the gutty Cubs lefthander by removing him from the game and bringing in Carlos Marmol.

“He was a little tired and he told me that on the mound,” Piniella said. “They had nothing but right-handers coming up, and we had our closer ready to go. Anytime you make decisions in a 1-0 game, they aren’t always the easiest ones.”

Marmol’s scary exit plan included a strikeout of shortstop Alexei Ramirez, an intentional walk to Alex Rios and a balk, which put the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position.

“I went into my motion and I caught the ball on my leg,” Marmol said.

After some near-wild pitches, Marmol was able to get Paul Konerko to hit into a fielder’s choice, forcing Pierre at home plate, and get a Carlos Quentin flyout to center to end the game.

“Usually I get 15 pitches in the bullpen to warm up,” Marmol said. “I only had 10 tonight. But I was ready. I’m always ready.”

Lilly, for his part, had no real qualms about handing over the game to Marmol.

“How many times have we seen Marmol in these situations. The guy’s got very big you-know-what,” said Lilly as laughter filled the room. “I think he loves these situations. He’s physically and mentally capable of stepping his game up.”

Lilly and Marmol were also a part of the Cubs last combined one-hitter on April 13, 2009 against Colorado.

The only double no-hitter to go through nine innings in major league history was on May 2, 1917, when the Cubs Hippo Vaughn and Cincinnati’s Fred Toney turned the trick. Toney pitched a 10-inning no-hitter and got the win. Vaughn lost his no-hit bid and the game in the 10th.

As for Floyd, this was the third time that he’s carried a no-hit bid into the seventh inning or beyond. The other two came on April 12, 2008 vs. Detroit (7 1/3 innings) and May 6, 2008 vs. Minnesota (8 1/3). Floyd is now 0-3 in his last four starts.