Gio Gonzalez stood on the Citi Field mound and stared over the first base line. “That’s foul!” he cried lifting his left arm in protest as if that might change what happened — the chalk flying up a New York Mets’ call-up named Zach Lutz bumping fists with the first base coach a ‘1’ replacing the ‘0’ in the Mets’ hit column. The Washington Nationals have not thrown a no-hitter since they came into existence and Gonzalez had come within perhaps one inch from becoming the first.

Gonzalez was nine outs from history when Lutz reached for the only Mets hit in a Nationals’ 9-0 demolition at Citi Field. In his first complete game and his second start in which he’s allowed just one hit this season Gonzalez faced 30 hitters and retired 27 nine of them with strikeouts. His complete game was a domination of the Mets in every way and afterward teammates lined up to shake his hand. If one ball had landed a one inch further to the right they would have piled on top of him.

“It’s a bittersweet moment” Gonzalez said. “You’re happy you got the win. The team did great. Everybody looked alive today. It’s a sad moment when you lose a no-hitter down the line.”

The Nationals celebrated their 20th win in their past 29 games which lifted them to a season-high five games above .500. They marveled at Gonzalez who may have pitched the best game of a sterling career. “Brilliant” Manager Davey Johnson said. But they also winced at how close he had come.

As Gonzalez held court for a semicircle of reporters first baseman Adam LaRoche sidled next to Gonzalez. In the seventh Lutz’s hit had barely eluded him. LaRoche put his arm around Gonzalez and said “I’m sorry.”