ATLANTA — Once Ubaldo Jimenez found the strike zone, the Braves had no chance, and the Rockies had their first no-hitter.
Jimenez, 26, pitched the first no-hitter in Colorado's 18 years and the majors' first this season, getting help from a spectacular catch by Dexter Fowler in the seventh inning of a 4-0 win over Atlanta on Saturday night.
"It is every pitcher's dream to be out there for nine innings and throw a no-hitter," Jimenez said.
Firing fastballs that reached 98 mph into the ninth inning, Jimenez pitched the first no-hitter since White Sox left-hander Mark Buehrle tossed a perfect game in a 5-0 victory over the Rays on July 23, 2009.
The Padres, Mets and Rays are the remaining franchises without a no-hitter.
After walking the leadoff batter in the fifth inning, his sixth walk, Jimenez began working exclusively out of the stretch.
"In the fifth inning, Bob Apodaca, he just came to me and was like, 'You've been throwing good from the stretch, why don't you just give it a try?' " Jimenez said of his pitching coach's advice.
He retired the next 15 to end it, but the biggest assist he received was from Fowler, his centerfielder.
With no outs in the seventh inning, Fowler made a diving catch in left-center on Troy Glaus' sinking line drive, the Braves' best chance for a hit.
"The way he dove, I was like, unbelievable," Jimenez said.
Jimenez gave Fowler, an Atlanta native, a big hug.
"I appreciated that," Fowler said.
Fowler said of the catch: "The ball hung up there long enough for me to go up there and get it. Usually if a ball goes up, I always think I had a chance to get it."
There was no relief in the ninth, with the Braves' 2-3-4 hitters coming to the plate.
"Oh my God, Chipper (Jones) and (Brian) McCann," Jimenez said. "They're two of the best hitters in the league. Why did it have to be those guys? Can't they give me a break or something?"
It didn't matter. Jimenez was not going to be denied.
Martin Prado popped out to second baseman Clint Barmes, Jones hit a flyball to leftfield, and McCann grounded out to Barmes on Jimenez's majors-high 128th pitch to end it.
Jimenez thrust his arms in the air and was swarmed by teammates as he celebrated history for himself and his franchise.
The right-hander struck out seven and had an RBI single in the fourth inning.
"That was domination," Jones said. "Only one ball came close to falling."
Said McCann: "I'd never been no-hit. I'd never even seen a no-hitter, except on TV. … It was probably the best performance I've ever seen."
Rockies manager Jim Tracy said he was worried as the walks piled up early.
"Because it's only his third start of the season, I start looking at the (pitch count)," Tracy said. "Is the pitch count intact enough to the point it doesn't become ridiculous and you run the risk of jeopardizing a young man's career?"