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Archive for Tuesday, May 20, 2008

K.C. no-hit

Boston pitcher Jon Lester pumps his fist after throwing a no-hitter. Lester shut down the Royals, 7-0, on Monday in Boston.

Boston pitcher Jon Lester pumps his fist after throwing a no-hitter. Lester shut down the Royals, 7-0, on Monday in Boston.

May 20, 2008

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— Jon Lester has survived cancer and pitched a World Series clincher for the Boston Red Sox.

Now he can add a no-hitter to his already amazing list of accomplishments.

The 24-year-old lefty shut down Kansas City, 7-0, Monday night for the first no-hitter in the majors since Red Sox rookie Clay Buchholz threw one last September.

It was Lester's first major-league complete game. And what a way to do it.

"You don't feel tired in that situation. You've got so much adrenaline going," he said. "I'm sure it will hit me in the morning."

Lester (3-2) allowed just two baserunners, walking Billy Butler in the second inning and Esteban German to open the ninth; he also had an error when he threw away a pickoff attempt.

Lester struck out nine, fanning Alberto Callaspo to end the game before pumping both fists in the air.

Catcher Jason Varitek, who has been behind the plate for a record four no-hitters, lifted his pitcher into the air. Manager Terry Francona gave a long, hard embrace to Lester, who missed the end of the 2006 season after he was diagnosed with a rare form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

"I've been through a lot the last couple of years. He's been like a second dad to me," Lester said. "It was just a special moment right there."

Center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury made a diving catch of Jose Guillen's line drive to end the fourth - the best defensive play of the night. Lester also got help from first baseman Kevin Youkilis, who made a nice scoop on shortstop Julio Lugo's throw after David DeJesus hit a grounder in the third.

The fans at sold-out Fenway Park held their enthusiasm until the final out of the seventh, rising to their feet when Lester fanned Guillen on a 93 mph fastball. They remained standing for the entire ninth inning, even as German walked and moved around to third base when Tony Pena and DeJesus grounded out.

With cameras flashing and the fans screaming at full throat, Callaspo fell behind 0-2. He took a ball and fouled one off before reaching for a high and outside 1-2 fastball to end the game.

"I was trying to do what I could do," Callaspo said. "You had to ... try to get the bat on the ball."

Lester and Varitek were mobbed by teammates running out of the dugout as the speakers played "Tessie," the victory anthem the Red Sox adopted through two World Series titles in four seasons. Lester was instrumental in the second, less than a year after chemotherapy cured his cancer, when he earned the victory in Game 4 at Colorado to complete the Red Sox sweep.

"I can't tell you which one means more to me than the other," Lester said. "The World Series is, obviously, the World Series. How many people get to say they've won that? And a no-hitter is a no-hitter. How many people can say they've done that?

"So they're both up there. They both mean a heck of a lot to me, and something I'll cherish for a long time."

Lester and Jonathan Papelbon combined to one-hit the Royals on July 18, 2006.

Buchholz no-hit the Baltimore Orioles last Sept. 1 in just his second major league start.

Mel Parnell was the last Red Sox lefty to throw a no-hitter, beating the Chicago White Sox on July 14, 1956. Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan is the only other person in history to no-hit the Royals.

"We're on the wrong part of history," Kansas City manager Trey Hillman said.

Varitek also caught Buchholz's no-hitter, along with gems by Hideo Nomo and Derek Lowe.

"It's so exciting to be part of one. Each one is so different," said Varitek, who handed Lester the ball from the final pitch but didn't have much to say. "Just let him enjoy the moment.

"It was his moment."

Lester, who was the prime prospect in offseason trade talks to bring Johan Santana to Boston, hugged Francona and then tipped his hat to the fans for one more big cheer.

"He's a wonderful kid, not because he threw a no-hitter. He's a good kid because he's a good kid," Francona said. "We're proud of him all the time but to watch him do that tonight was beyond words. I tried to put it into words but it's hard because - what a story."

Luke Hochevar (3-3) allowed seven runs on five hits and six walks in six innings for Kansas City, which had won six of its last seven.

The Red Sox took advantage of Hochevar with five runs in the third, scoring their first run on a double play and then loading the bases on walks after Ellsbury tripled. Manny Ramirez walked to bring in another run and then Mike Lowell hit a high popup that was dropped by second baseman Mike Grudzielanek for another two runs.

Youkilis bounced a line drive over the short wall in right to make it 5-0. Varitek added a two-run homer in the sixth.

Notes: The Royals reinstated C John Buck from the bereavement list and optioned catcher Matt Tupman to Triple-A Omaha. Buck missed the weekend series in Florida to be with his wife, who had complications in her pregnancy. She gave birth to twin sons Cooper and Brody on Thursday, about 12 weeks early; the team said the situation has since stabilized. ... Ramirez high-fived a fan down the left-field line after making a catch. ... Guillen was chosen as the AL player of the week. He went 11-for-24 with two homers and 13 RBIs last week. ... The Red Sox sent down RHP Chris Smith and recalled RHP Justin Masterson from Double-A Portland to start on Tuesday night.

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