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YANKS’ HAWKINS PITCHES NO-HITTER BUT LOSES, 4-0

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Andy Hawkins has been around awhile, so he knows about no-hitters. Hawkins began in the majors in 1982, so he has seen them, read about them, dreamed about them.

Not like this one.Hawkins - who only 24 days ago was told by Yankees executives that he was going to be released - pitched a no-hitter Sunday in the Yankees' last game in "old" Comiskey Park. That piece of trivia was not what made Hawkins' no-hitter unusual, though. Hawkins lost this no-hitter, 4-0, thanks to a wild, wacky, wind-blown eighth inning in which the White Sox scored four runs on three errors and two walks.

Unearned. Unbelievable. Unjust.

"When you throw a no-hitter, you expect to walk off the field and shake everybody's hand like I've seen 1,000 times before, like we've seen the last two days with Fernando and Dave," Hawkins said, referring to Valenzuela and Stewart. "They came off the field in jubilation. They had no-hitters and had wins, and that's the way it should be."

That's not the Yankees' way, though. Not this year. The Yankees themselves mustered only four hits in seven innings against Greg Hibbard, whose own bid for a perfect game was broken up by Bob Geren's infield single with one out in the sixth. Barry Jones (10-1) and Scott Radinsky each pitched one hitless inning.

Hawkins threw 131 pitches, 79 of which were strikes. And his eighth inning was a see-saw of emotions, with his teammates misplaying a grounder and dropping two fly balls.

Hawkins walked five, but aside from the grounder that third baseman Mike Blowers mishandled with two outs and none on in the eighth, there was little close to a hit. Amazing, considering opposing batters began the game hitting .300 against Hawkins.

When Blowers was unable to backhand Sammy Sosa's grounder cleanly and Sosa beat Blowers' throw with a headfirst dive into first, the craziness began. After Hawkins walked Ozzie Guillen and Lance Johnson, Robin Ventura hit a routine fly to leftfielder Jim Leyritz, who turned and circled and finally dropped the wind-swept ball, allowing three runs to score. The ball ricocheted off his glove and rolled to the warning track.

The weirdness continued when veteran rightfielder Jesse Barfield dropped Ivan Calderon's routine fly ball, allowing Ventura to score. Barfield was bothered by the wind the sun but said, "If you get your glove on it, it's an error."

Hawkins recorded the third out - and what proved to be the no-hitter - by getting Dan Pasqua to pop out to shortstop Alvaro Espinoza, who made a routine play look routine. And so Hawkins walked to the dugout, an array of emotions creeping up on him. He was given a standing ovation by the crowd of 30,642 - though this year's sixth no-hitter was not official until the Yankees were retired in the ninth.

"I'm stunned, I really am," said Hawkins (1-5), whose mostly excruciating season includes no victories since May 6. "It's not even close to the way I envisioned a no-hitter in the big leagues."

Hawkins pitched a one-hitter against the Astros two years ago and fired 42/3 innings of perfect ball May 16 against the Twins in a game that was rained out. His no-hitter - the ninth in Yankees history - was only the third in major-league history to be lost within nine innings. The last previous losing no-hitter came on April 30, 1967, when the Orioles' Steve Barber and Stu Miller held the Tigers hitless but lost, 2-1.

The only other losing no-hitter not to reach extra innings came on April 23, 1964, when the Houston Colt .45s' Ken Johnson lost, 1-0, to the Reds.

The Yankees were at a loss for words after Hawkins' bittersweet performance. "Somehow we have to find a way for him to celebrate," Righetti said. "Under the circumstances, I don't think anybody would know how to act."

Manager Stump Merrill could only tell Hawkins, "You did a hell of a job. You're a class act."

That compliment stems from Hawkins' patting Leyritz on the back in the dugout after his error. It was an up-and-down weekend for the rookie, who hit his first two major-league home runs in Saturday's 10-7 win.

Leyritz had started only two previous games in the outfield in the majors, and looked shaky early, too. It goes without saying that Leyritz had never played outfield in the Windy City with the pressure of a no-hitter grabbing at him.

"Jimmy was upset; he had no reason to be upset," Hawkins said. "This is a tough outfield."

The first error was the trickiest for official scorer Bob Rosenberg. Blowers edged backward on Sosa's grounder and tried to snare the ball between hops. He didn't. It was a tough play, but Blowers said, "It should have been an error all the way."

Not on the scoreboard it wasn't. With no instruction yet from Rosenberg, the scoreboard operator added a hit to the Sox' column, prompting the Yankees to look up to the press box in wonderment and Merrill to wave in disgust.

Thus, Hawkins' emotional roller-coaster was set in motion.

"The only difficult thing I had," Hawkins said, "was when they started changing things around on the scoreboard . . . I went through a psychological see-saw there."

It didn't get much better, although Hawkins reacted well to the outfield shenanigans, later saying he had "one of the best outfields I could have had behind me."

Hawkins, in excusing the misplays, described the swirling conditions by saying, "The balls were hanging, floating."