Franco’s HR in 8th breaks up Houston’s bid for no-hitter

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Houston Astros starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi throws a pitch to the Baltimore Orioles during the first inning of a baseball game, Monday, June 21, 2021, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

BALTIMORE (AP) — Maikel Franco hit a two-run homer with one out in the eighth inning, denying the Houston Astros in their attempt to throw a combined no-hitter Monday night at Baltimore.

Astros starter Jake Odorizzi and reliever Cristian Javier held the Orioles without a hit through seven innings. Then there was a 41-minute rain delay in the top of the eighth.

Brandon Bielak came on to pitch the bottom of the eighth for Houston, and after he hit Austin Hays with a pitch with one out — just the second baserunner for Baltimore — Franco sent a drive to deep center field.

The Astros lead 10-2.

Earlier in Franco’s at-bat, Bielak appeared to have thrown strike three, but he didn’t get the call from plate umpire Angel Hernandez.

Houston was looking to pitch the seventh no-hitter in the majors this season. That would have matched 1990, 1991, 2012 and 2015 for the most since 1900, one shy of the record eight in 1884 — the first season overhand pitching was allowed.

Odorizzi pitched the first five innings before being replaced by Javier. Odorizzi retired his first 13 batters, then walked DJ Stewart on a full count in the fifth.

The teams played for a while in a driving rain at Camden Yards in the top of the eighth, with puddles forming in the infield. Play was finally halted with one out and José Altuve batting. The start of the game was also delayed an hour because of rain.

In a season when pitchers have dominated — and on the day umpires began checking them for illegal foreign substances — Odorizzi didn’t seem the least bit bothered. He struck out nine and threw 86 pitches, three shy of his season high.

The 31-year-old Odorizzi missed more than a month with a strained muscle in his right arm. This was his fifth appearance and fourth start since returning.

The no-hitters this season were thrown by San Diego’s Joe Musgrove (April 9), Carlos Rodón of the Chicago White Sox (April 14), Baltimore’s John Means (May 5), Cincinnati’s Wade Miley (May 7), Detroit’s Spencer Turnbull (May 18) and the New York Yankees’ Corey Kluber (May 19).

In addition, Arizona’s Madison Bumgarner pitched a seven-inning hitless game in a doubleheader on April 25 that is not recognized as a no-hitter by Major League Baseball.

The Astros threw the most recent combined no-hitter in the majors, when Aaron Sanchez, Will Harris, Joe Biagini and Chris Devenski blanked Seattle on Aug. 3, 2019. Houston has one other no-hitter since then — Justin Verlander’s against Toronto on Sept. 1 of that same year.

The most recent no-hitter against the Orioles was by Seattle’s Hisashi Iwakuma on Aug. 12, 2015. There has only been one no-hitter at Camden Yards. That was by Boston’s Hideo Nomo on April 4, 2001.

Yordan Alvarez hit a three-run homer in Houston’s five-run third inning. The Astros were trying to extend a seven-game winning streak.

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