MIAMI -- Monday would have been Jose Fernandez's 25th birthday.
Instead, the day belonged to another pitcher associated with Miami -- Gio Gonzalez, who was close to Fernandez. The Washington Nationals left-hander had a lot on his mind beyond that, especially his very pregnant wife.
Even with those monumentally emotional distractions, Gonzalez took a no-hitter into the ninth inning in the Nationals' 1-0 victory over the Miami Marlins on Monday night at Marlins Park.
"It was tough," said Gonzalez, a 31-year-old left-hander and a native of Miami Dade County. "Today there was too much on my mind. I have my beautiful wife at home in D.C. probably going into labor in the next two days.
"I also had emotions seeing Jose's mom, seeing his little one (baby daughter), seeing his whole family. ... As soon as I saw Jose's mom (before the game), she was already in tears. There was a lot of emotion right from the get-go."
Fernandez died in a boat crash in September. Before the game, Washington's bullpen catcher had Gonzalez warm up with a baseball that had Fernandez's initials and jersey number (16).
A no-hitter in those circumstances would have been an incredible story. However, Dee Gordon, who famously homered in the first game after Fernandez's death, broke up the no-hit bid, slapping a single to center on a 1-1 breaking ball to lead off the ninth.
It was nearly the second no-hitter in the majors this year. Marlins right-hander Edison Volquez pitched a no-hitter against the Arizona Diamondbacks on June 3.
Gonzalez (9-5), who was removed after the single to Gordon, walked three and hit one batter while striking out five. He threw 106 pitches.
Sean Doolittle relieved Gonzalez and picked up his seventh save of the season and the fourth since the Nationals acquired him from the Oakland Athletics.
Prior to Gordon's single, the closest Miami came to a hit came was when Miguel Rojas hit a sixth-inning line-drive. Nationals shortstop Wilmer Difo made a diving catch.
Washington (63-41) leads the season series 4-3. The last time the teams played each other was June 21 at Marlins Park. In that game, Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer took a no-hitter into the eighth inning but lost his bid and the game 2-1.
Second-place Miami (49-55) has lost two games in a row and trails the first-place Nationals by 14 games in the National League East.
Right-hander Jose Urena (9-5), who leads the Marlins in wins, pitched exceptionally well, allowing three hits, one walk and one run in eight innings. He struck out six.
Washington scored the only run in the sixth inning. Brian Goodwin, who played at nearby Miami Dade College, doubled off the wall in center, advanced to third on Difo's sacrifice bunt and scored when Bryce Harper stroked an opposite-field single to left.
Harper said he was just happy to help on a night that belonged to Gonzalez and, in a sense, Fernandez.
"(For Gonzalez) to go out there and pay homage to (Fernandez)," Harper said, "it was super impressive.
"I wish (Gonzalez) could have gotten (the no-hitter). I love the way he pitches. He pounds the strike zone and does everything he can to help his team win. He's passionate."
Starting with one out in the second inning, Gonzalez retired 14 batters in a row.
"He kept us off balance with his off-speed pitches," Gordon said.
That streak ended in the seventh when Gonzalez issued a one-out walk to Yelich. Gonzalez pitched out of that mild trouble when he made an athletic grab on a high chopper by Ozuna and got the force at second.
That set up the drama in the ninth, when Gordon -- known for his speed -- wasn't sure if he should try a bunt. In one of those unwritten rules of baseball, bunting to break up a no-hitter is frowned upon.
"My game is to bunt," Gordon said, "and I didn't know if I could bunt or not. I was kind of in a weird situation."
Gonzalez, who said he would have left the game in the middle of a no-hit bid if he got the call that his wife had gone into labor, would up with a night to remember.
"I had a close relationship with (Fernandez), and so had my brother," Gonzalez said. "We fished with him every other day, it felt like. Today was just one of those special days."
NOTES: Washington acquired RHP Brandon Kintzler, 32, from the Minnesota Twins for minor league LHP Tyler Watson, 20. Kintzler was 2-2 with a 2.78 ERA and 28 saves for the Twins and will combine with LHP Sean Doolittle and RHP Ryan Madison in late relief for Washington. ... Watson, a former 34th-round pick, is a starter who was 6-4 with a 4.35 at Class A Hagerstown. ... The Marlins, who were shopping RHP Dan Straily, did not make any trades Monday right before the non-waiver deadline. However, Miami had dealt SS Adeiny Hechavarria, RHP AJ Ramos and RHP David Phelps in the weeks leading up to the deadline. ... Game 2 of the series features Washington RHP Max Scherzer (12-3, 2.23 ERA) against Miami LHP Chris O'Grady (2-1, 3.68).