for this game

Lester tosses no-hitter, Red Sox rout Royals

May 20, 2008 - 4:08 AM By Mike Petraglia PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

BOSTON (Ticker) - Jon Lester became the first pitcher this season to throw a no-hitter on Monday.

Jacoby Ellsbury tripled and scored in a five-run third inning and saved the no-hitter with a spectacular diving grab as the Boston Red Sox posted a 7-0 triumph over the Kansas City Royals on Monday night at Fenway Park.

A cancer survivor, Lester (3-2) allowed just two baserunners - a walk to Billy Butler in the second inning and Esteban German in the ninth - as he threw Boston's fourth no-hitter since 2001, joining Hideo Nomo (2001), Derek Lowe (2002) and Clay Buchholz (2007).

"It was tough," Lester said of his journey back from cancer to Monday's no-hitter. "It was a long road back. When I did get back, I wanted to be at a certain level and I wasn't at that level and it took a while. It was tough mentally and tough physically to go out and pitch every five days. It was a long road.

"I'm just glad that I'm here at this moment right now - and in five days, I'll go and pitch again."

Red Sox manager Terry Francona made it back from his son's graduation at the University of Pennsylvania in time to manage the 18th no-hitter in Red Sox history.

"This probably isn't fair to say but I feel like my son graduated today and my (other) son threw a no-hitter. It couldn't have happened to a better kid."

Francona and pitching coach John Farrell allowed Lester to throw 130 pitches to get into the record books.

"I looked up in the ninth and you're trying to keep your emotions in check, and I went to say something to John Farrell and he was being a big baby next to me," Francona said. "It made me feel a little bit better."

In addition, Jason Varitek set a major league record by catching his fourth no-hitter.

"This was a weird one," Varitek said. "I didn't really know he had a no-hitter until the eighth. I looked up in the seventh and saw that he was around 100 pitches and he did his job. I glanced in the bullpen and saw nobody warming up and thought that was weird."

As for Lester, he capped off the night by recording his ninth strikeout by tossing a fastball by Alberto Callaspo struck out swinging.

"It really hasn't sunk in," Lester said. "Right now, it feels like I pitched and we won the game. I think it's the World Series. It takes a while for this to set in and give you time to reflect on it. I guess it's one of those things you get to enjoy later."

Immediately after the game, Francona embraced Lester - a gesture that meant a great deal to the young pitcher.

"He just said he's proud of me and that we've been through a lot these past couple years ... it's a special moment right there," Lester said.

The 24-year-old lefthander walked two in crafting the third no-no at Fenway in the last seven seasons. With one out in the fourth, the Royals made their strongest bid for a hit.

Jose Guillen drove a sinking liner to right-center. Ellsbury dove head-first and made a backhanded stab just before the ball hit the turf.

"After the catch, actually I realized he had a no-hitter going," Ellsbury said. "It was nice having that (five-run) cushion, knowing if there's anything around, you could lay out. I knew I could go for it and looking back on it, I'm really glad I made that catch."

The Royals managed to get only one runner in scoring position and couldn't take advantage of Lester's high pitch count.

"He threw a no-hitter, nothing more I can say," Royals manager Trey Hillman said. "I'd like to see us make better adjustments than that. But after the second inning, third through the ninth, he had command of all his pitches and they had a good game plan.

"They made us chase and we chased too much and they got us behind in the count," Hillman added. "When you get behind in the count in a situation like that, and a guy has that much going, it makes it all the more difficult."

Luke Hochevar (3-3) also started out strong for the Royals, not allowing a hit until J.D. Drew opened the third with a single to right. Varitek followed with a hit-and-run single to left, putting Drew at third with none out.

The Royals caught a break when Julio Lugo grounded into a 6-4-3 double play that scored Drew with the first run. But Ellsbury tripled to center to ignite the rally.

Three straight walks to Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez put Boston ahead, 2-0. Hochevar appeared to get out of further trouble when Mike Lowell skied a pop-up behind the pitcher's mound.

Mark Grudzielanek was fooled by the 17 mile-per-hour winds blowing out to right and had the ball glance off his glove for a two-run error.

Kevin Youkilis capped off the rally with a double to right-center.