BOSTON -- Nine days before the fifth anniversary of his no-hitter, Jon Lester allowed just one of 28 Toronto batters to reach safely Friday night in Fenway Park in the Boston Red Sox's 4-0 win over the Blue Jays.
Lester gave up a two-out double to Maicer Izturis, who hit a line drive over the leap of third baseman Will Middlebrooks into the left-field corner in the sixth inning, ending his flirtation with perfection after setting down the first 17 Jays in order.
But Izturis would be the only Jays baserunner of the night, Lester striking out pinch hitter Adam Lind to preserve the one-run lead he held at the time, Lind becoming the first of 10 Jays batters Lester would set down in succession to end the game, Lind taking a called third strike for the final out.
Lester became the first Red Sox pitcher to throw a one-hitter since Josh Beckett on June 15, 2011, against the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg, Fla. He also became the first Sox pitcher to throw a complete-game one-hitter at Fenway Park since Hideo Nomo on May 25, 2001.
There has been only one perfect game in Sox history, and it came 100 seasons ago, Cy Young throwing a perfecto against the Philadelphia Athletics on May 5, 1904.
Customarily, familiarity tends to work against a pitcher, which should have put Lester at a huge disadvantage Friday night. This was the third time in the team's first 36 games he was facing the Jays. He held them scoreless through seven innings the first time he faced them, on April 7 in Rogers Centre, but they whacked him around on April 30, scoring six runs on six hits and two walks in six innings.
Toronto came out swinging Friday night, as seven Jays went out on two pitches or fewer before Izturis lined the first pitch he saw in the sixth for a double. Lester went to five three-ball counts, all of which went to full counts, before Izturis ended his bid for perfection.
Lester is now 5-0 after the third complete-game shutout of his career.
The Sox, 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position through six innings and able to score just once in five innings against recycled 40-year-old Ramon Ortiz, finally broke through in the seventh. Jacoby Ellsbury and Shane Victorino opened the inning with singles off left-handed reliever Brett Cecil, then advanced a base on a wild pitch.
Dustin Pedroia, down 0-and-2 in the count, fought back to make it 3-and-2, then lined a run-scoring single to right-center to make it 2-0. Two outs later, Daniel Nava hit a double off the Monster in left-center off reliever Mickey Storey for two more runs. Jarrod Saltalamacchia doubled home Nava to make it 5-0.