NEW YORK -- It was hardly the stage he stepped out onto last October, but David Freese once again found himself left as the last man standing in the way of history.
Last October, with the Rangers a strike away from clinching the franchise's first World Series championship, Freese lined a triple into the right-field corner that would extend the game. Two innings later, he delivered a home run that would forever alter his legacy.
The stakes weren't comparable for the Cardinals at Citi Field on Friday, but the opportunity to alter history and deflate a franchise again found its way to Freese. With two out and Johan Santana's pitch count sitting at 128, Freese stepped into the batter's box as the last one with a chance to deny the Mets their first no-hitter in franchise history.
Freese's three previous plate appearances against Santana had ended in a walk, a flyout and a popout. This time, he quickly worked the count into his favor, 3-0.
"I got behind in the count, but I was like, 'This is it,'" Santana said. "I knew at that point I just had to get him out somehow."
After a called strike on an 86-mph fastball, Santana went back to the changeup, a pitch that had given Freese and the rest of his teammates fits all night.
"It's all about arm action," Freese said of the pitch. "He's got that flutter effect to it to where you think it's going to sit in your wheel house and next thing you know, it's out of there."
Freese fouled off the first changeup. Mets catcher Josh Thole called for another, noting afterward that he was insistent on sticking with the pitch "all the way."
This one came out at 79 mph. It was Santana's 134th offering of the night.
"I knew when I threw it and it was going to go down," Santana said, "that it had a pretty good chance."
There would be no history-thwarting by Freese this time. He swung through the pitch to send Citi Field into celebration with the 8-0 win. On the Cards' end, it marked the eighth time the franchise has finished a game without a hit.
"He was obviously effective," said Freese. "He's got good off-speed. And for a no-hitter, you have to make some good plays and they did. It was definitely a good effort. Our broken bats didn't fall and our line drives didn't carry. He threw a heck of a game and deserves it."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.