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More than filler: Houston Astros' Mike Fiers no-hits Los Angeles Dodgers

By MoiseKapenda Bower, The Sports Xchange

HOUSTON -- At one point during the impromptu press conference announcing the acquisition of Milwaukee Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez on July 30, someone asked Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow if right-hander Mike Fiers was an integral part of the transaction or if he was essentially roster filler to balance out the haul of prospects shipped off.

Fiers gave an emphatic answer regarding his viability Friday night.

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Fiers tossed his first career no-hitter as the Houston Astros topped the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-0 at Minute Maid Park in the opener of this three-game interleague series.

Fiers (6-9), acquired alongside Gomez at the non-waiver trade deadline, recorded his first career complete game in his fourth appearance and third start with the Astros (67-56). He issued three walks and needed a career-high 134 pitches to finish what he started, surpassing his previous high of 113 with a called third strike on second baseman Enrique Hernandez for the second out in the eighth inning.

Fiers retired the final 21 batters he faced, getting a pair of deep fly outs from shortstop Jimmy Rollins and designated hitter Chase Utley to open the ninth inning before striking out third baseman Justin Turner to send the 33,833 on hand into a tizzy. Fiers finished with 10 strikeouts.

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"It was just a thrill to go nine and not give up any runs for this team that's battling for first place here," Fiers said. "It's just good to give my team, my bullpen a rest. Going deep in the game is something I pride myself on and not really using the bullpen too much. So just going as long as possible and not give up as many runs. It happened to be a no-hitter tonight."

It marked the first no-hitter for Houston since June 11, 2003, when six pitchers (Roy Oswalt, Pete Munro, Kirk Saarloos, Brad Lidge, Octavio Dotel and Billy Wagner) combined to no-hit the Yankees in New York. As a franchise, the Astros produced 11 no-hitters, with right-hander Darryl Kile recording the last individual no-hitter for Houston on Sept. 8, 1993, in a 7-1 win over the New York Mets at the Astrodome.

Fiers produced the first no-hitter in the history of Minute Maid Park, which opened in 2000. The Dodgers (67-54) were no-hit for the first time since June 8, 2012, when six Seattle pitchers worked a 1-0 win.

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Fiers issued his first walk with two outs in the first inning when Turner claimed a nine-pitch battle. Right fielder Andre Ethier walked after 10 pitches to open the second and center fielder Joc Pederson reached on a leadoff walk in the third, but from that point Fiers clicked.

After requiring 60 pitches to complete three innings, Fiers roared through the middle innings. He recorded five consecutive strikeouts bridging the seventh and eighth, a clear indication of his stamina.

"I keep track of how many pitches he throws per inning, I keep track of the effectiveness of it, and you look at the seventh and eighth inning and he's got five punch outs in a row with pretty electric stuff," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "I think his best fastball might have been in the ninth with adrenaline pumping. He earned every opportunity to finish that."

Astros right fielder Jake Marisnick bashed his sixth home run of the year and first since June 17 with two outs in the second, a shot to left-center off Dodgers left-hander Brett Anderson (7-8) that scored first baseman Chris Carter, who started the rally with a sharp single to left.

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Anderson recovered and retired 12 of the next 14 batters he faced, but with two outs in the sixth inning he surrendered a solo home run to Astros designated hitter Evan Gattis, his 19th on the season.

"Two just terrible changeups," Anderson said of the dingers.

One errant changeup proved more than enough for Fiers, whose fastball location and sharp curveball carried him on this historic night.

"For sure give him credit for obviously hanging in there," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said of Fiers. "Had a lot of pitches early. Was able to hang in. He's the kind of guy that you have to get the ball down. I think we helped him a little bit. We chased probably 15, 20 balls up out of the strike zone. That's one of the things with him. You want to try to get down. But easier said than done with him because it looks good to hit. Then, the breaking ball plays off of that. He did a nice job."

NOTES: Dodgers RF Yasiel Puig (right hamstring strain) was held out of the starting lineup for a second consecutive game, but manager Don Mattingly anticipates that he will be available at some point this series. Puig ran Friday and did not report any issues with the hamstring. ... The Astros anticipate rookie RHP Lance McCullers arriving in Houston on Saturday in advance of his start Sunday in the series finale against the Dodgers. McCullers will make his first start with the Astros since Aug. 3, when he was optioned to Double-A Corpus Christi for rest. ... Dodgers 2B Howie Kendrick continues to progress with the left hamstring strain that landed him on the 15-day disabled list on Aug. 10. The Dodgers don't anticipate Kendrick returning before Sept. 1.

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