Nationals are no-hit for the first time by Phillies’ Michael Lorenzen

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Phillies pitcher Michael Lorenzen has plenty of reason to smile after throwing a no-hitter against the Nationals, the first time the team had been no-hit since moving to Washington. (Matt Slocum/AP)

PHILADELPHIA — Before Wednesday night, before Michael Lorenzen took the mound at Citizens Bank Park and turned toward history, the Washington Nationals had gone 18 seasons, four months and eight days without being no-hit. They had switched stadiums, won a World Series and watched a journeyman become a cult hero with a children’s song about a family of sharks but had never been on the wrong end of a pitcher’s special night, never had to slouch at their lockers and talk about when they noticed the zero in their hit column. They had never been those guys.

But then it was Lorenzen, a right-hander for the Philadelphia Phillies, who finally did it, stacking one out on another as if he could not be bothered by history. The previous time the franchise now known as the Nationals was no-hit was 1999, when the New York Yankees’ David Cone threw a perfect game against the Montreal Expos. Until Lorenzen finished a 7-0 gem, capped by Dominic Smith’s flyout to center, Washington had the longest streak in MLB of registering at least one hit.

Lorenzen served a reminder, then, that streaks are meant to be broken.

“Sometimes it’s meant to be,” said Nationals Manager Dave Martinez, whose team had not been shut out since April 19. “And today was meant to be for him.”

“It’s unbelievable, to be honest,” said Lorenzen, who held up his baby daughter, June, during a postgame celebration on the field. “I always dreamed about throwing a no-hitter and having the opportunity. Skip gave me the opportunity to go 120-plus pitches and, man, it was incredible. … I’m just blown away.”

Phillies pitcher Michael Lorenzen holds up his baby daughter June after throwing a no-hitter Wednesday night against the Nationals. “It’s unbelievable, to be honest,” Lorenzen said. June could not be reached for comment. (Matt Slocum/AP)

Six-foot-three, skinny and with shoulder-length hair, the 31-year-old Lorenzen is new to Philadelphia. He is from Southern California, Orange County specifically. He wears white Vans cleats as a tribute to his home, though he will need new ones now after the Hall of Fame asked for the ones on his feet Wednesday night. He came over from the Detroit Tigers at last week’s trade deadline, the hope around here that he will help the Phillies’ chase for a second straight pennant. And this was his first start in front of their fans, who will never forget what they saw on a random night in August, in what was supposed to be just another game.

He kept the Nationals — CJ Abrams, Lane Thomas, Joey Meneses, Smith, Keibert Ruiz, Jake Alu, Ildemaro Vargas, Blake Rutherford and Alex Call — guessing with a steady mix of four-seam fastballs, change-ups, sliders and sinkers. Only Thomas and Ruiz had faced him before. Alu and Rutherford are rookies, with Rutherford now 0 for 14 to start his career. Fifteen of the Nationals’ 27 outs were in the air. Just five came via strikeout.

Lorenzen threw 24 pitches in the first inning, his command shaky, and needed 100 to finish seven. That was partly because he walked four — putting on Meneses and Ruiz twice each — and threw 76 strikes to 48 balls. By the seventh, the crowd erupted with every out. Then with two down and two strikes to Vargas, the fans stood and screamed, somehow growing louder when Vargas punched a grounder to second baseman Rodolfo Castro.

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