Houston — Growing up, Mike Fiers remembers watching Nolan Ryan throw no-hitter after no-hitter.
After pitching his first one Friday night, Fiers finally got to meet the man who spun so many gems.
Fiers pitched the second no-hitter in the major leagues in nine days, leading the Houston Astros to a 3-0 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Ryan, now an Astros executive who threw a record seven no-hitters, applauded from a suite as Fiers was mobbed by his teammates near the mound after finishing the 11th gem in Astros history.
Then Ryan went down to the dugout to welcome the right-hander into a most fancy fraternity — the No-Hit Club.
“Nolan threw seven of them, seven no-hitters so at that point you’re like: ‘It kind of looks easy,’ ” Fiers said. “Then you get to this point and obviously it’s not. And it doesn’t happen all the time. For him to congratulate me, coming down in the dugout was something really special … what a pitcher he was.”
Fiers (6-9) struck out Justin Turner on his 134th pitch to end it and threw his glove high into the air for his first career complete game and the fifth no-hitter in the big leagues this season. Seattle’s Hisashi Iwakuma tossed a no-no on Aug 12.
“It was like a dream,” Fiers said. “You throw the last pitch. You feel the emotion of everything you’ve been through in your life.”
Fiers said his exhaustion didn’t hit him until he threw his last pitch.
“After I got that last out everything kind of hit me,” he said. “Once you’re in that moment you don’t feel anything really. You’re going off adrenaline at that point.”
Manager A.J. Hinch said he never really considered pulling Fiers.
“I think his best fastball might have been in the ninth with adrenaline pumping,” Hinch said. “He earned every opportunity to finish that.”
Fiers added that they would have had to throw him in the clubhouse and lock him in for him to come out of the game.
Cole Hamels with Philadelphia, San Francisco’s Chris Heston and Washington’s Max Scherzer also have thrown no-hitters this season.
A night earlier the Astros were on the wrong end of a gem, getting just a fifth-inning single against Tampa Bay’s Chris Archer.
Acquired by the Astros at the trade deadline to help with their playoff push, Fiers was stellar in his first two starts for Houston. This was something else, though.
Having never even gotten an out in the ninth inning in his five-year career, Fiers was dominant. He struck out 10 and walked three, retiring the final 21 batters.
Fiers (1-0) needed little help from his defense until Jake Marisnick had to sprint to catch a long fly ball by Jimmy Rollins just in front of the bullpen in right field for the first out of the ninth inning.
Fiers crouched in relief then pointed out to his teammate.
“There’s a little more urgency. You don’t want to let anything drop out there,” Marisnick said. “Just go and get it.”
The closest the Dodgers came to breaking it up was in the sixth inning when Turner’s towering shot to left with two outs hooked foul.
“The fact that you get no-hit is kind of like icing on the bad part of the cake,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “I think at the end of the day it’s a loss and you have to get over it. You can’t afford not to.”
The 30-year-old Fiers allowed a walk in each of the first three innings, but didn’t allow a baserunner after walking Joc Pederson to start the third.
“My command was off a little early, I just tried to stick with it, I knew it was going to come,” Fiers said. “This game is all about playing for your teammates, guys on the field with you.”
After that, he repeatedly had the NL West-leading Dodgers fooled with a nasty curveball and change-up to complement a fastball in the low 90s.
It was the first no-hitter by one Astros pitcher since Darryl Kile blanked the Mets on Sept. 8, 1993. Six Houston pitchers combined to throw one against the Yankees on June 11, 2003.
Fiers was acquired with Carlos Gomez from Milwaukee on July 30 and has been rejuvenated by the move from a last-place club to the top of the AL West. He allowed just one earned run over 12 innings in his first two starts for Houston.
His no-hitter comes after a tough year in 2014, when he hit Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton in the face with a fastball.
Fiers was a 22nd-round pick of the Brewers in 2009. He made his major league debut in September of 2011 and spent his entire career with Milwaukee before the recent trade.
At Washington, most of the Brewers stayed in uniform after their 10-3 win to cheer for Fiers’ final outs.
“We were all watching,” said second baseman Scooter Gennett. “We’re all extremely happy for him and he’s obviously a good pitcher. It was nice seeing him out there and having such a great day.”
Jake Marisnick gave the Astros a 2-0 lead in the second with a two-run homer off the left center façade. Evan Gattis hit a solo home run to left in the sixth.
Brett Anderson (7-8) allowed three runs on seven hits with five strikeouts in six innings.