Lester has ‘no-no’cure for Royals
By: By JIMMY GOLEN, AP Sports Writer
BOSTON (AP) — Even after chemotherapy cured him, Jon Lester knew that if he was truly going to put his cancer in the past he would have to build a career that was at least as remarkable as his recovery.
A career that would define him as a pitcher, and not as a pitcher who survived cancer.
The 24-year-old lefty added another accomplishment to his already amazing list when he pitched the first no-hitter in the majors this season, shutting down the Kansas City Royals 7-0 on Monday night in his first career complete game.
“It was a long road back,” Lester said. “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.”
Lester, who also won the clincher in Boston’s World Series sweep last October, struck out nine and allowed just two baserunners; he also made an error when he threw away a pickoff attempt. He fanned Alberto Callaspo to end the game, then walked off the mound pumping both arms in the air.
“I think I had more adrenaline going in the ninth inning than I did in the first inning, which I guess is normal for that situation,” said Lester, who threw a career-high 130 pitches. “You don’t feel tired in that situation. You’ve got so much adrenaline going. I’m sure it will hit me in the morning.”
In the only other AL games Monday night, Minnesota edged Texas 7-6 in 12 innings, and Tampa Bay outlasted Oakland 7-6 in 13 innings.
Lester (3-2) walked Billy Butler in the second inning, and center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury made a diving catch of Jose Guillen’s line drive to end the fourth for the best defensive play of the night.
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 Esteban German walked and moved around to third base when Tony Pena and David 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.”
Catcher Jason Varitek, who has been behind the plate for a record four no-hitters, lifted his pitcher into the air and the two were mobbed by teammates running out of the dugout.
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 he was pronounced cancer-free, starting Game 4 to help the Red Sox complete their sweep of the Colorado Rockies.
“I can’t tell you which one means more to me than the other,” Lester said when asked to compare that victory to this one. “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.”
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.”
Lester, 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.”
The last no-hitter in the majors was thrown by Boston’s Clay Buchholz, who did not allow a hit to the Baltimore Orioles Sept. 1 in just his second major league start. 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.”
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.
Lester and Jonathan Papelbon combined to one-hit the Royals on July 18, 2006.
On Monday, Lester finished the job.
“We’re on the wrong part of history,” Kansas City manager Trey Hillman said.
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 got five runs in the third, scoring on a double play, a walk and Mike Lowell’s high popup that second baseman Mike Grudzielanek dropped for another pair. Kevin 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.
Twins 7, Rangers 6
At Mineapolis, Howie Clark’s single over the head of Josh Hamilton in center field lifted host Minnesota.
Reliever Bobby Korecky (1-0) became the first Twins pitcher to get a hit in an American League game since the designated hitter was instituted in 1973, and also picked up his first career victory by getting two outs in the top of the 11th with the bases loaded and then pitching a perfect 12th.
Carlos Gomez led off the 12th with an infield single off Franklyn German (1-3) and advanced to second on a groundout. After Mike Lamb was walked intentionally, Gomez scored on Clark’s hit.
Rays 7, Athletics 6
At Oakland, Calif., Evan Longoria hit a two-run homer of Chad Gaudin (3-3) in the 13th inning and visiting Tampa Bay overcame a pair of home runs by Frank Thomas.
Eric Hinske also hit a two-run homer and Jason Hammel (3-2) pitched three scoreless innings to help the Rays win for the ninth time in 12 games.
Troy Percival gave up a two-out RBI triple to Daric Barton before finishing up for his 12th save.