Matt Harvey was so dominant, it seemed certain the Chicago White Sox would never score. Instead, each pitch raised more tantalizing questions: Would they ever get a hit, or even a runner?
Harvey threw one-hit ball for nine innings in a nearly perfect performance and the New York Mets permitted just one baserunner all game in beating the White Sox 1-0 in the 10th Tuesday night.
Harvey allowed only an infield single by Alex Rios with two outs in the seventh — he was safe, barely. The right-hander with the bright future struck out a career-high 12 and was pulled when the game went to extra innings.
"I mean, obviously, everything was working," Harvey said.
Pinch-hitter Mike Baxter lined an RBI single with one out in the 10th off Nate Jones (0-3).
Mets reliever Bobby Parnell (3-0) struck out two in the 10th.
It was a most rare interleague matchup. Because of schedule quirks, the Mets and White Sox had played just three previous games since AL vs. NL action began in 1997. Only Texas and St. Louis have met so infrequently — they've played three games in the regular season, plus seven in the 2011 World Series.
It was nearly historic, too.
"Harvey was as advertised tonight," Chicago manager Robin Ventura said.
Harvey neared a no-hitter for the second time this season. He held Minnesota hitless for 6 2-3 innings on April 13 until Justin Morneau homered off the foul pole.
In his 17th big league start, the solidly built Harvey bid for even more. Already hailed as the face of the franchise's fortunes, the 24-year-old nearly pitched a game for the ages.
The closest the White Sox came to a hit in the early innings was on a grounder by Jeff Keppinger in the fourth that third baseman David Wright fielded and threw while crossing into foul territory.
After that play, Harvey said, "I kind of realized this might actually happen."
Harvey set down the first 20 batters until Rios hit a grounder in the hole in the seventh. The crowd instantly gasped, sensing trouble.
Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada did his best, gloving the ball on the edge of the infield dirt and making a jump throw. First baseman Ike Davis made a long stretch and caught the ball cleanly, but Rios was safe by a shade. The fans groaned when first base umpire Mark Carlson correctly called him safe.
"I tried to do it my best," Tejada said.
Said Rios: "He threw me a slider, middle-away and I just rolled over it. My job was to get to first base so we could try and score a run."
Harvey got a big ovation as he settled in to face the next hitter, then fanned Adam Dunn for his 10th strikeout. The crowd of 23,394 stood as Harvey walked to the dugout, where manager Terry Collins met him with a fist bump.
Harvey had no regrets about the hit.
"It's not the first time it's ever happened," he said.
The Mets have had only one no-hitter in their history, last June 1 by Johan Santana against St. Louis.
Pitching after six off days, Harvey overpowered the White Sox with a fastball in the upper 90s mph and got them guessing with a sharp breaking ball and pinpoint changeup.
His biggest problem in the early going was a nosebleed that developed soon before the first pitch.
Harvey is 4-0 with a 1.28 ERA after seven starts. He's allowed just 22 hits in 49 1-3 innings, striking out 58 and walking 12.
White Sox starter Hector Santiago nearly matched Harvey, blanking the Mets on four singles before leaving after the seventh. He also drew a few cheers from local fans, having grown up in nearby Newark, N.J. Santiago struck out eight, walked two and threw 111 pitches.
Davis drew a leadoff walk in the 10th and moved up on a sacrifice bunt by Juan Lagares. Baxter batted for Parnell and singled into the right-field corner.
The White Sox had never visited the Mets since interleague play began. The White Sox had played in Queens, however — most recently on Aug. 21, 1975, when they beat the Yankees at Shea Stadium. That was during a two-year period when the Yankees moved into the Mets' ballpark while Yankee Stadium was being remodeled.
The only previous Mets-White Sox series was in Chicago in June 2002. Paul Konerko homered three times in those three games while current White Sox coach Joe McEwing played for the Mets.
For some Mets fans, this game might've rekindled a night former star Dwight Gooden pitched as a rookie in 1984 — late that year, he dominated the Cubs with a one-hitter, allowing only an infield single by Keith Moreland.
Gooden has followed Harvey's rise and tweeted this as the game went to extra innings: "Matt "THE REAL DEAL" Harvey... Enough said!"