Johan Santana pitched the first no-hitter in New York Mets history, as the Mets defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 8-0.
Santana struck out eight and walked five en route to the 275th no-hitter in Major League Baseball history.
The 33-year-old left-hander's pitch count mounted to 134, but manager Terry Collins stuck with his starter, who spent last season rehabilitating his surgically repaired left shoulder.
Prior to the game, Collins said he didn't know if Santana, a former two-time Cy Young award-winner, could return to his pre-surgery form.
"Is there room for more improvement? Knowing him, probably yes," the manager said, and his words proved prophetic.
Collins, who spoke before the game of his plan to limit Santana to an absolute maximum of 115 pitches, got emotional later as he explained he didn't have the heart to pull his hurler as history beckoned.
"In five days, if his arm is bothering him," Collins said, "I'm not going to feel very good.
"I just couldn't take him out," Collins added. "I just couldn't do it. I wanted it for him. I wanted it for the organization. But you just don't jeopardize his career or the whole organization for one inning. We'll wait five days and see how it is."
After the game, all concerns were drowned by celebrations.
"That was incredible," Mets owner Fred Wilpon enthused as he made his way to the clubhouse.
"Coming into this season, I was just hoping to come back, stay healthy and help this team," Santana said.
"That's the greatest feeling ever," added Santana just before teammate Justin Turner smacked him with a festive whipped-cream pie to the face.
Baxter, clearly in pain, hit the warning track and left the game with a suspected shoulder injury.
The no-hitter came in the Mets' 8,020th game. The club have been on the opposite side of six no-hitters in their 50-year existence.
A replay showed the ball hitting the third-base line, but Beltran wound up grounding out to short.
Santana is the third pitcher this season to toss a no-hitter. Philip Humber of the Chicago White Sox threw a perfect game against the Mariners on April 21 and Jered Weaver of the Angels no-hit the Twins on May 2.
Matt Holliday flew out to shallow centerfield, Allen Craig was out on a ground ball to left that Andres Torres caught and Santana struck out David Freese -- the 2011 World Series Most Valuable Player -- swinging to end the game.
Source: AFP Global Edition