A trio who combined to make history

When this photo was taken Sept. 11, 1991, Braves reliever Alejandro Pena had just been told he’d just taken part — along with starter Kent Mercker and then-middle reliever Mark Wohlers — in the first-ever combined no-hitter thrown in the National League.

Pena got the last out of that game and it explains why he had taken the ball and scribbled No. 8 on it: It was his eighth save of the season.

“I was just trying to finish the game and get the save,’’ said Pena. “I was wondering when I came off the field why everyone made such a big deal about it. I didn’t find out about it until later when I was in the clubhouse … kind of weird.’’

What’s strange is, considering the NL is the world’s oldest professional league, founded in 1876, it took so long to see its first combined no-hitter. The first one thrown in the AL came in 1967. The game marked the 112th no-hitter in NL history. Mercker went six innings, Wohlers, a rookie, pitched two and Pena worked the ninth.

Said Wohlers: “At the time, you didn’t realize how big a deal that was.’’

The 1-0 win over San Diego wasn’t without controversy, however. With two outs in the ninth, Darrin Jackson bounced a ball to third baseman Terry Pendleton, who took a big stab at a high hopper but couldn’t make the play. Official scorer Mark Frederickson, after watching the replay in the press box several times, ruled it an error.

Pendleton, the league MVP that season, told reporters at the time, “The ball got in the lights on the hop. I had to force the hand of the scorer. I had no idea at all where the ball was. I had to stab at it. I’m definitely satisfied with the call. I’ll take that error any day. In my mind, it was plain what the call was.’’

The game ended when future Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn flied out to left.

Since then, there have been three more combined no-hitters thrown in the NL. Of the 288 no-hitters thrown in major league history, 11 of them had multiple pitchers.