Houston (37-28) at New York (36-28)

Rain Currently: New York, NY
Temp: 71° F
  • Game info: 1:05 pm EDT Thu Jun 12, 2003
  • TV: ESPN2, YES
Preview | Box Score | Recap

David Wells knows something about completely shutting down an opponent. It’s his teammates who will be trying to remember how to get a hit.

The day after being no-hit by six Houston Astros, the stunned Yankees look to get back on track when the teams close out a three-game series.

Wells, who pitched a perfect game at Yankee Stadium in 1998, has been the most reliable starting pitcher in New York’s much-heralded rotation this season, and the Yankees could use an emotional lift from the left-hander.

New York was no-hit for the first time 45 years in Wednesday night’s 8-0 loss. The Astros, winners of 10 of 12, set a major-league record by using six pitchers to accomplish the feat.

After starter Roy Oswalt left with an injury, relievers Pete Munro, Kirk Saarloos, Brad Lidge, Octavio Dotel and Billy Wagner finished the victory.

“First appearance for most of us in Yankee Stadium,” Wagner said. “What better place could there be? This is like the history book.”

The Yankees had gone 6,980 games—the longest streak in major league history—without being no-hit, since Hoyt Wilhelm’s 1-0 victory for Baltimore on Sept. 20, 1958.

“This is one of the worst games I’ve ever been involved in,” said Yankees manager Joe Torre, who held a team meeting after the game. “It was a total, inexcusable performance.”

The closest New York came to a hit was in the fifth against Saarloos, when Alfonso Soriano sent a fly ball into short left field. Lance Berkman ran in, stuck out his glove and made a tumbling catch.

As shocked as the Yankees are, a victory Thursday would go a long way to helping them put the no-hitter behind them. Wells is looking for his third straight win, which would give New York a victory in the series.

Since missing a turn in the rotation because of a bruised calf, Wells has allowed just four runs and 10 hits over 13 1-3 innings in his last two games. He pitched 5 2-3 innings of scoreless relief in New York’s 10-9, 17-inning win over Detroit on June 1—Wells’ first relief appearance since 1993.

Wells, tied with Mike Mussina for the team lead with eight victories, yielded three runs and seven hits in 7 2-3 innings of Friday’s 5-3 win over the Chicago Cubs.

Wells struck out four and, as usual, didn’t issue a walk. In 12 appearances this season, Wells has allowed three walks in 85 2-3 innings, and hasn’t issued one since May 19.

“Every pitcher knows that if you get ahead, get strike one, it’s tougher for the hitter to adjust,” said Wells, who has won 20 of his last 23 decisions. “He’s out there playing defense, so he’s not in the same mode.

“I challenge guys. I’ve done it since day one in the big leagues, so I’m not going to change it now.”

The Yankees will be looking to solve Astros left-hander Jeriome Robertson as they try for their first hit in two games. Robertson is 3-0 with a 3.84 ERA in his last four starts, but is coming off one of his worst outings of the season.

Wednesday’s loss dropped the Yankees a half-game behind the Boston Red Sox for first place in the AL East.

STANDINGS: Astros - 1st place (tied), NL Central. Yankees - 2nd place, 1/2 GB, AL East.

ASTROS PROBABLE STARTER: Robertson (4-3, 6.16 ERA). The 26-year-old left-hander surrendered three runs and five hits in 3 2-3 innings Friday, but Houston rallied for an 11-8 win over Tampa Bay. Robertson will be making his first career start against the Yankees.

YANKEES PROBABLE STARTER: Wells (8-2, 3.36 ERA). Opponents have a .258 average and a .274 on-base percentage against Wells, who has 87 strikeouts compared to his three walks this season. He won his only career start against Houston.

OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Astros - Jeff Kent, .315 avg. and 46 RBIs; Berkman, 12 HRs and 46 runs; Carl Everett, 6 SBs. Yankees - Soriano, .295 avg., 18 HRs, 52 runs and 18 SBs; Jorge Posada, 44 RBIs.

INTERLEAGUE RECORD: Astros - 7-1; Yankees - 3-5.

STREAKS AND NOTES: Astros - The no-hitter was the 10th in Astros’ history and first since the late Darryl Kile tossed one against the New York Mets on Sept. 8, 1993. … RHP Oswalt, who originally hurt his groin May 15, left in the second inning Wednesday. He is day-to-day. … OF Berkman has a 17-game hitting streak, batting .377 (24-for-65) with six homers and 17 RBIs during the stretch. Yankees - The last time New York was no-hit at Yankee Stadium was on Aug. 25, 1952, by Detroit’s Virgil Trucks. … The Yankees are 16-24 since their 20-4 start. … SS Derek Jeter has struck out in 12 of his last 19 at-bats.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Astros - 15-16 on the road; Yankees - 14-16 at home.

INJURIES: Astros - LHP Carlos Hernandez (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Brian Moehler (forearm), 15-day DL. Yankees - RHP Jose Contreras (shoulder), 15-day DL; 1B Nick Johnson (wrist), 15-day DL; OF Bernie Williams (knee), 15-day DL; RHP Steve Karsay (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Jon Lieber (elbow), 60-day DL.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Robertson NYM vs. D. Wells LAD
15-9 Record 15-7
5.10 ERA 4.14
99 K 101
64 BB 20
1.52 WHIP 1.23