BOSTON | Move over Nolan Ryan.
Boston left-hander Jon Lester became the second pitcher in history to throw a no-hitter against the Royals on Monday night in a 7-0 victory at Fenway Park.
The Royals only really came close to a hit on one occasion: José Guillen sent a sinking two-out liner into center in the fourth, but Jacoby Ellsbury made a terrific diving catch.
Other than that, Lester was in complete command in improving to 3-2. He struck out a season-high nine and walked only two in a 130-pitch performance.
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Lester began the ninth by walking Esteban German, who went to second on Tony Peña’s grounder to third. David DeJesus grounded out to first as German raced to third.
With the sellout crowd of 37,746 standing and roaring, Lester ended the game by striking out Alberto Callaspo on a high outside fastball. It was the 18th no-hitter in Red Sox history but the first by a left-hander since Mel Parnell on July 14, 1956.
This was not entirely new territory for Lester, who held the Royals to one hit in eight innings on July 18, 2006 in a 1-0 victory at Fenway Park.
Royals starter Luke Hochevar, 3-3, gave up seven runs in six innings. Only four were earned. One was enough, though.
Ryan’s no-hitter came in a 3-0 victory on May 15, 1973 at then-Royals Stadium. He struck out 12 and walked three. It was the first of Ryan’s record seven career no-hitters.
Of the 27 one-hitters thrown against the Royals, only three times did pitchers carry no-hitters into the ninth inning: Minnesota’s Scott Baker last season on Aug. 31, Pittsburgh’s Todd Ritchie in 2001 and Cleveland’s John Farrell in 1989.
Farrell is the Red Sox’s pitching coach.
Mike Sweeney had a one-out single against Baker; Luis Alicea had a one-out single against Ritchie; Kevin Seitzer had a no-out single against Farrell.
All three of those games were on the road.
Neither team had a hit until J.D. Drew pulled a leadoff single through the right side in the third inning. Jason Varitek followed with a hit-and-run single through short that moved Drew to third.
Hochevar appeared poised to limit the damage to one run when he got Julio Lugo to ground into a run-scoring double play.
Then the sky fell in.
Ellsbury ripped a triple over DeJesus’ head in center before Hochevar walked three straight hitters — the last two, David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez — on full counts.
Even so, Hochevar should have escaped at 2-0 when he induced an infield pop from Mike Lowell. Except second baseman Mark Grudzielanek, usually so sure-handed, dropped the ball.
Two runs scored. When Kevin Youkilis followed with a ground-rule double into the Boston bullpen, the lead was 5-0.
The Red Sox extended their lead to 7-0 on Jason Varitek’s two-run homer in the sixth. It came after Hochevar hit Drew with a pitch.