Ortiz Was Looking to Make History

By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 5, 2006

When Ramon Ortiz took the mound for the ninth inning yesterday afternoon -- on the verge of throwing a no-hitter against the St. Louis Cardinals -- it was one of the finest moments of his career. Had he completed it -- Aaron Miles singled to lead off the ninth, breaking up the bid -- it would have been a historic moment for the franchise and the city.

Only two Washington Senators threw no-hitters -- Walter Johnson on July 1, 1920, in Boston, and Bobby Burke on Aug. 8, 1931, also against the Red Sox, but this one at old Griffith Stadium. The Senators didn't have a no-hitter from that day until they departed for good after the 1971 season. RFK Stadium, which replaced Griffith Stadium in 1962, has never hosted one.

When the Nationals franchise played as the Montreal Expos from 1969 to 2004, it had four no-hitters: Dennis Martinez in 1991 against the Dodgers in Los Angeles; Charlie Lea in 1981 against San Francisco; and two for Bill Stoneman, the first in 1969 at Philadelphia and the second in 1972 at home against the New York Mets.

There hasn't been a no-hitter in the majors since Randy Johnson threw a perfect game for Arizona against Atlanta in May 2004. The current streak without a no-hitter is the longest in major league history.

Church Twists in the Wind

With the arrival of new center fielder Nook Logan, Ryan Church said he has "no clue" what's next for him. Asked if the situation was frustrating, he said, "Believe it."

"I've been on a swivel all year," he said. "It's not like it hasn't happened before. I've just got to be ready when I get called on."

Church is hitting .255 with eight homers and 27 RBI in 153 at-bats. Manager Frank Robinson acknowledged that with Logan getting a look in center and Alfonso Soriano and Austin Kearns locked in at the corners, Church's playing time will be sporadic. "We probably have a decision to make with him this winter," Robinson said. . . .

The Florida Marlins will be the Nationals' season-opening opponent next April 2, sources familiar with the schedule said, the first opener in the District since 1971.

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