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Giants’ Jonathan Sanchez pitches no-hitter

SAN FRANCISCO — Jonathan Sanchez, an unlikely candidate, pitched the majors’ first no-hitter this season Friday night, dominating the San Diego Padres with an array of pitches in the San Francisco Giants’ 8-0 victory.

The 26-year-old left-hander returned to the rotation after a nearly three-week demotion to the bullpen — and he only got the call because 303-game winner Randy Johnson went on the disabled list earlier this week with a shoulder injury.

Gold Glove center fielder Aaron Rowand saved the no-hitter with a leaping catch at the center-field fence to rob pinch-hitter Edgar Gonzalez for the second out of the ninth inning.

Sanchez nearly tossed a perfect game — the only runner the Padres managed came on an error by third baseman Juan Uribe in the eighth.

Sanchez threw the Giants’ 13th no-hitter and first since John Montefusco did it on Sept. 29, 1976, at Atlanta. It was their first no-hitter in San Francisco since Ed Halicki beat the New York Mets in the second game of a doubleheader on Aug. 24, 1975.

The Padres failed to get a hit for the first time since Bud Smith blanked them 4-0 pitching for St. Louis on Sept. 3, 2001, and the seventh occasion in franchise history.

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