Jose Jimenez, a rookie right-hander suffering through one of the worst seasons of any National League pitcher, threw the first St. Louis no-hitter in 16 years tonight, outdueling Randy Johnson in the Cardinals' 1-0 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Jimenez became the first rookie to pitch a no-hitter since Wilson Alvarez of the Chicago White Sox on Aug. 11, 1991, and the first Cardinal to do it since Bob Forsch on Sept. 26, 1983.
"I'm very, very happy. It's unbelievable," Jimenez said. "It's indescribable. I don't have words."
Jimenez (4-7) struck out eight, walked two and hit a batter. No Arizona runner got beyond second base.
Right fielder Eric Davis saved the no-hitter with two diving catches, including a one-out grab in the ninth off a sinking liner by pinch hitter David Dellucci. Jimenez then got Tony Womack on a slow roller to second, and was mobbed by his teammates.
"He really had tremendous movement on his pitches," Cardinals Manager Tony La Russa said. "He has Kevin Brown-type movement."
It was the first no-hitter by a National League rookie since 1972, when Burt Hooton of the Chicago Cubs beat Philadelphia, 4-0. Jimenez, 25, is the first Cardinals rookie to throw a no-hitter since Paul Dean in 1934.
Johnson (9-4) struck out 14 to reach 2,500 for his career. He gave up only five hits in a magnificent showdown with the rookie from the Dominican Republic.
Arizona Manager Buck Showalter said he wasn't surprised by Jimenez's performance.
"He's been one of their best prospects," Showalter said. "Watching him pitch, you can understand why they think so much of him."
It was a scoreless game until the ninth, when Johnson walked Darren Bragg and Mark McGwire with one out. Johnson struck out Davis, but Thomas Howard followed with an RBI single to left for the game's only run. McGwire was thrown out at third on the play to end the inning.
With one out in the ninth, Dellucci hit a sinking liner to right. Davis came in and made a diving, backhand catch. After Davis rolled over and stood up, the ball fell out of his glove, but second-base umpire Mark Wegner ruled Davis had control of the ball long enough for the out.
Last Aug. 27, Jimenez threw a no-hitter for Class AA Arkansas against Shreveport. But he has struggled in his first season in the majors.
Entering the game, Jimenez had given up 60 earned runs, tied for most in the NL. The Cardinals had lost 10 of the last 11 games he had started, including a 17-1 pounding by San Francisco on May 25.
But the Diamondbacks, the top hitting team in the league, couldn't touch Jimenez, who became the fifth NL rookie and 15th rookie overall to pitch a no-hitter.
Two big defensive plays kept Arizona hitless in the sixth -- a diving catch by Davis on Andy Fox's fly to right, and a shoestring grab by Bragg on Johnson's line drive to center.
Johnson struck out at least 10 for the 10th time this year and 112th time of his career.