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07/11/09 4:03 AM ET

Leap of faith: Rowand saves no-hitter

Giants center fielder makes jumping catch at wall in ninth

SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants center fielder Aaron Rowand knew what was at stake Friday night as he pursued a long drive by the Padres' Edgar Gonzalez.

Jonathan Sanchez had maintained his no-hitter through one out in the ninth inning. Gonzalez's solid connection with a 2-0 pitch threatened to end Sanchez's bid for history. But Rowand preserved it with the play of the game, reaching to the top of the wall with a leap to grab the ball. One out later, Sanchez had his no-no in the Giants' 8-0 victory.

"I feel lucky to be part of something this special," Rowand said. "This is going to be a night I'll never forget."

A Gold Glove Award winner in 2007, Rowand knew what he had to do to make the play.

"I got a good jump on it," Rowand said. "I was going back on it. I picked up the fence. I knew where [the ball] was. It was just a matter of how far it was going to go. Either I had to put my foot on the fence and go up and over and try to make a catch, or [do it] the way it happened."

The rest of the Giants' defenders were ready to go all out to support Sanchez.

"I was playing a little bit farther in than usual in the last couple of innings just to make sure nothing fell short," right fielder Nate Schierholtz said. "Obviously, we have a bigger park, so you want to eliminate the bloopers. ... [We] were ready to lay out for anything and make a dive."

Rowand couldn't precisely tell whether Gonzalez's hit would have been a home run if untouched but said, "It was close to going over. I haven't seen the replay. It had to be at the top of the fence."

Edgar's brother, Adrian Gonzalez, also tested Sanchez -- twice.

Adrian Gonzalez, San Diego's best all-around hitter, drove an opposite-field fly ball to the warning track in left leading off the second inning.

He did the same thing with a 3-1 pitch to open the eighth inning, except this time the trajectory appeared more suggestive of a home run. But John Bowker caught the ball a step or two in front of the wall.

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.