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Cleveland at Boston

Scoreboard
Cleveland (79-80)000001000121
Boston (94-65) «32000010x680

Lester, Youkilis keep BoSox's AL East title hopes alive

CBSSports.com wire reports
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BOSTON -- If the Cleveland Indians hadn't broken up Jon Lester's bid for his second no-hitter this season, his own team would have.

"He was coming out," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "I told him that was the first time I've ever rooted against him. The only way you're going to see something like that, it would've had to have been a group effort."

Lester held Cleveland hitless through five before finishing with six innings of two-hit ball on Thursday night, leading Boston to a 6-1 victory. Making his final tuneup start before the playoffs, Lester was working on a pitch limit of about 85 pitches; he lasted 86 before leaving to the cheers of the crowd and the handshakes of his teammates.

"If it happens, it's nice. But we've got to get ready for the playoffs," said Lester, who no-hit Kansas City on May 19 for the first complete game of his career. "If it ended up working out where I could have done it with not a lot of pitches, then great. If not, then no big deal."

Kevin Youkilis was 2-for-3 with his 28th homer for the Red Sox, who retained a mathematical chance of winning the AL East -- if they win their last three games of the season and Tampa Bay loses its last three. The Rays lost to the Detroit Tigers 7-5 on Thursday and hold a two-game lead and the tiebreaker in the division.

To Boston, that was more important than whether Lester (16-6) became the fifth pitcher in history with two no-hitters in a season. Francona was spared an uncomfortable situation when Josh Barfield lined a clean double into left field to lead off the sixth; Lester also gave up Jamey Carroll's RBI single before leaving with a 5-1 lead.

Lester said he wasn't worrying about where he fit into the playoff rotation. Instead, he's just happy to know he has a spot after going into last year's postseason as a mopup man before eventually getting the start in Game 4 of the World Series when Boston clinched its second title in four years.

"I'm not worried about Game 1, 2, 4, 8," he said. "Whatever it is, give me the ball and I'll go pitch."

Three Red Sox relievers threw a perfect inning apiece to finish off the two-hitter, with Jonathan Papelbon pitching the ninth in a non-save situation to get ready for next week's playoffs. First comes a weekend series against the rival New York Yankees that is uncharacteristically meaningless.

"That's OK," Francona said. "It's fine with us."

Jacoby Ellsbury and Jed Lowrie, the top two hitters in the Boston order, hit back-to-back singles in the first and back-to-back doubles in the second as the Red Sox opened a 5-0 lead after two against Jeremy Sowers (4-9).

Lester allowed just one baserunner in the first five innings, hitting Grady Sizemore with a pitch in the third. The Indians didn't get a hit off the 24-year-old lefty until Barfield, the No. 9 hitter who entered the game batting .160, led off the sixth.

Barfield took third on a balk and scored when Carroll singled under second baseman Dustin Pedroia's glove. But Lester retired Ben Francisco on a weak flyball to right and struck on Johnny Peralta to end his outing.

"He was as good a left-hander as we've seen all season," said Indians manager Eric Wedge, who said he wasn't thinking about being no-hit -- yet. "He has to get a little deeper than that. But he had that kind of stuff."

Youkilis homered in the seventh to make it 6-1.

After spending the last five days at or above .500, Cleveland dropped to 79-80.

The Indians, who were eliminated from the playoffs by Boston last year after taking a 3-1 lead in the AL Championship Series, will finish the season with another chance to play spoiler. Cleveland has three games against the White Sox, who are fighting with the Minnesota Twins for the last playoff spot in the AL.

Notes

  • Sizemore was the 101st Indians hit batsman this season, breaking the major league record set by the Houston Astros in 1997.
  • Boston purchased the contract of INF Gil Velazquez from Triple-A Pawtucket and moved RHP Bartolo Colon from the suspended to the restricted list. Velazquez made his major league debut as a pinch runner after Alex Cora was hit by a pitch in the sixth. Cora had a right hip bruise.
  • Indians RHP Fausto Carmona (five games) and C Victor Martinez (two) began serving suspensions for a bench-clearing brawl against the Tigers after reaching an agreement with Major League Baseball that reduced their penalties by one game apiece.
  • Nolan Ryan (1973) was the last pitcher to throw two no-hitters in a season. Johnny Vander Meer pitched back-to-back no-hitters in 1938; Virgil Trucks (1952) and Allie Reynolds (1951) also pitched a pair of no-nos in the same year.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Jon Lester tosses five no-hit innings before yielding a leadoff double to Josh Barfield in the sixth.  (AP)
Jon Lester tosses five no-hit innings before yielding a leadoff double to Josh Barfield in the sixth. (AP)

Players of the Game
Boston

K. Youkilis
AB 3
R 2
H 2
HR 1
RBI 2
Boston

J. Lester
IP 6.0
H 2
ER 1
BB 1
K 4
 
Cleveland Indians
Grady Sizemore, CF3000011 .271
Jamey Carroll, 3B4011001 .274
Ben Francisco, LF4000011 .267
Jhonny Peralta, SS4000011 .274
Kelly Shoppach, C2000110 .263
Travis Hafner, DH3000000 .201
Ryan Garko, 1B3000011 .266
Franklin Gutierrez, RF3000020 .245
Josh Barfield, 2B3110000 .179
Totals2912117  
Batting
2B - Josh Barfield (1, Lester)
RBI - Jamey Carroll (34)
Team LOB - 3
Fielding
DP - Sowers-Peralta-Garko, Barfield-Peralta-Garko
E - Jamey Carroll (7, Throwing)
Cleveland Indians
Jeremy Sowers (L,4-9) 6755310 5.58
Thomas Mastny 2111011 10.80
HBP - Cora (by Jeremy Sowers)
Pitches-Strikes - Jeremy Sowers 95-56, Thomas Mastny 17-12
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jeremy Sowers 7-9, Thomas Mastny 2-3
Batters Faced - Jeremy Sowers 28, Thomas Mastny 7
Boston Red Sox
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF4220001 .275
Jed Lowrie, 3B4221000 .259
Dustin Pedroia, 2B3011001 .325
Kevin Youkilis, 1B3222101 .314
Jason Bay, LF2000211 .288
Jason Varitek, C3001001 .220
Mark Kotsay, RF4011010 .275
    Jonathan Van Every, RF0000000 .222
Jeff Bailey, DH3000002 .267
   a- Chris Carter, PH-DH1000000 .500
Alex Cora, SS2000000 .264
    Gil Velazquez, PR-SS0000000 .000
Totals2968632  
a-grounded out for Bailey in the 8th
Batting
2B - Jacoby Ellsbury (21, Sowers), Jed Lowrie (24, Sowers), Mark Kotsay (24, Sowers)
HR - Kevin Youkilis (28, Mastny)
SF - Dustin Pedroia (9), Jason Varitek (2)
RBI - Jed Lowrie (45), Dustin Pedroia (83), Kevin Youkilis 2 (113), Jason Varitek (43), Mark Kotsay (49)
2-OUT RBI - Kevin Youkilis 2 (35), Mark Kotsay (18)
Team LOB - 5
Boston Red Sox
Jon Lester (W,16-6) 6211140 3.21
Justin Masterson 1000010 3.13
Hideki Okajima 1000010 2.66
Jonathan Papelbon 1000010 1.98
HBP - Sizemore (by Jon Lester)
WP - Jon Lester (3)
Pitches-Strikes - Jon Lester 86-55, Justin Masterson 12-9, Hideki Okajima 12-7, Jonathan Papelbon 12-7
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jon Lester 9-5, Justin Masterson 2-0, Jonathan Papelbon 1-1
Batters Faced - Jon Lester 22, Justin Masterson 3, Hideki Okajima 3, Jonathan Papelbon 3
Game Information
Attendance - 37726
Game Time - 2:32
Temperature - 59
Umpires - Home - Gerry Davis, First Base - Bruce Dreckman, Second Base - Rob Drake, Third Base - Brian Gorman