May 11, 2013

Perfection barely eludes Lester

A one-hitter against the Blue Jays raises his record to 5-0 and halts a three-game Red Sox losing streak.

The Associated Press

BOSTON - Jon Lester pitched a one-hitter Friday night, allowing only Maicer Izturis' two-out double in the sixth inning, and the Boston Red Sox broke a three-game losing streak with a 5-0 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.

Jon Lester
click image to enlarge

Jon Lester is in vintage form Friday night, stopping a Red Sox slide with a one-hitter against the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Associated Press

SATURDAY'S GAME

WHO: Red Sox (Buchholz 6-0) vs. Toronto Blue Jays (Buehrle 1-2)

WHEN: 1:35 p.m

WHERE: Fenway Park

TELEVISION: NESN

Just nine days shy of the fifth anniversary of his no-hitter, the left-hander retired the first 17 batters before Izturis lined a clean double several feet over the outstretched arm of third baseman Will Middlebrooks that landed just inside the foul line. Lester then ended the inning by striking out pinch hitter Adam Lind.

"He mowed us down," said an impressed Toronto Manager John Gibbons.

"He's one of the better ones in the game. Especially as those first few innings go along, from the side, it's tough to tell, but then you look up at the replays and his balls, they're cutting. He carved us up pretty good tonight."

Coming off a disappointing 2012, Lester (5-0) allowed just one of the remaining nine batters to hit the ball out of the infield and finished with five strikeouts.

The closest the Blue Jays came to another hit was Brett Lawrie's low liner starting the sixth that center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury caught easily.

Izturis was the only runner allowed by Lester, who pitched the third shutout and 10th complete game of his career.

He was coming off two of the poorer performances of his outstanding season, both losses in which he didn't get the decision.

Despite Lester's brilliance, the Red Sox led just 1-0 through six innings.

They scored in the second against Ramon Ortiz (0-1) when Daniel Nava walked, took third on a single by Jarrod Saltalamacchia and scored when shortstop Izturis fielded Middlebrooks' grounder but his throw to start a potential inning-ending double play eluded second baseman Mark DeRosa.

The Red Sox finally built a comfortable lead with four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning, making it 5-0.

Singles by Ellsbury and Shane Victorino put runners at first and second base and they moved up on a wild pitch by Brett Cecil.

Dustin Pedroia singled in a run, but the next two batters struck out.

Then Saltalamacchia doubled in two runs and Middlebrooks drove in another with his second double of the game.

"When you have command of every pitch, and I think he used our aggressiveness against us a little bit -- he's pretty special when you could throw cutter, sinker, four-seam, hook, changeup, and on both sides of the plate," said Toronto catcher J.P. Arencibia.

"The guy's one of the best in the game for a reason. He showed that tonight."

On May 19, 2008, at Fenway Park, Lester pitched his only no-hitter in a 7-0 win over the Kansas City Royals.

Friday's outing was the fourth time he allowed just one hit while pitching at least seven innings -- and the third time against Toronto.

The other two were over eight innings in a 1-0 win in Boston on April 29, 2008, and seven innings in a 2-0 win at Toronto on April 28, 2010.

He also did it against Kansas City in eight innings of a 1-0 win on July 18, 2006.

"The no-hitter, perfect game, all that stuff, the stars got to be perfectly aligned for you," Lester said.

Boston continued to waste numerous opportunities. The Red Sox left runners on base in each of the first seven innings after stranding runners in all nine innings of Thursday night's 5-3 win over the Minnesota Twins.

"I think that's definitely probably the sharpest that I've seen him today attacking us," Arencibia said.

NOTES: Toronto designated hitter Rajai Davis left the game with a left oblique strain. Lind pinch hit for him in the sixth. ...

Buchholz (6-0) pitches for Boston against Mark Buehrle (1-2) in the second game of the three-game series Saturday. ...

Toronto's six-game winning streak at Fenway ended.

 

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