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05/04/11 2:27 AM ET

Twins' defense deserves assist in no-hitter

CHICAGO -- If you believe Twins left-hander Francisco Liriano, he didn't realize he had a no-hitter until the eighth inning of a 1-0 win over the White Sox on Tuesday night.

Liriano claimed that with so many free passes on the night -- he walked six -- he never looked up at the scoreboard until there were just a few more precious outs to go.

"To be honest, I didn't know I was throwing a no-hitter until the eighth inning, because I walked so many guys," Liriano said. "When [Danny Valencia] made a good play for me, I just thought it was a real good play. I wasn't thinking about a no-hitter or anything at all."

But if you ask his catcher, Drew Butera, he'll tell you a different story, as he was sure Liriano had to know he had history on the line.

"He's lying," Butera said with a smile. "I think they all realize it. No, I don't know. Maybe he was in one of those zones where he didn't realize it."

So maybe Liriano wasn't aware he was holding the White Sox hitless, but regardless, he still impressed Butera with not only his stuff -- especially his changeup -- but also with his composure on the mound.

"He was controlled mentally," Butera said. "In starts before, some emotions may have gotten the best of him, but tonight, he was just locked in and everything worked. He got a little help with guys chasing pitches, but I think that's because he attacked the zone so well."

Francisco Liriano, No-hitter

Liriano also got plenty of help defensively, including an impressive running catch by Denard Span on a ball hit by Carlos Quentin to left-center field to end the fourth inning and save at least one run from scoring with two runners on base.

But it was Valencia's big play at third base that got all the attention, as he made a great stab on a hard-hit Quentin ground ball down the line and made the long throw from foul territory to keep the no-hitter intact to end the seventh.

"I've had plays like that in the past, it's either going to be a hit or it's a great play," Valencia said. "Luckily tonight, we got the out, and luckily, we had a no-hitter tonight."

Liriano also got a nice play in the final inning from Justin Morneau at first base, scooping a bounced throw from Matt Tolbert at shortstop for the first out.

"You've got to be ready for any kind of throw there," Morneau said. "I saw it halfway in the air, and I said, 'I've got to catch it.' The thing was just sitting there. It was as close to falling out of my glove as it could be. I could feel it. It wasn't stuck in there. I could feel that it wasn't perfect. Just luckily enough it stayed in there."

Tolbert later caught the last out on a hard liner from Adam Dunn to seal the no-hitter with Juan Pierre at first base after a walk.

The club rushed to Liriano after that final out to celebrate his remarkable performance, and it brought nothing but joy to Twins manager Ron Gardenhire.

"It's such a nice thing to see the young man smile like that," Gardenhire said. "He lifted everybody up in this clubhouse, and we definitely needed to be lifted up. It takes a superhuman effort like that, and that's what we got tonight, so very exciting for us."

Liriano, for his part, was just happy his defense was out there making plays to help him make history on a cold night at U.S. Cellular Field.

"They played great defense out there for me today," Liriano said. "I couldn't have done it without them."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.