Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Angels' Lackey loses no-hit bid, shutout in 9th

BOSTON - John Lackey nearly pitched baseball’s third straight no-hitter at Fenway Park. And that wasn’t the only exciting thing the Los Angeles Angels did Tuesday.

Hours after the AL West leaders acquired slugger Mark Teixeira in a trade, Lackey came within two outs of a no-hitter to lead Los Angeles past the Boston Red Sox 6-2.

The right-hander appeared headed for the history books until Dustin Pedroia grounded a sharp single through the left side with one out in the ninth inning.

Kevin Youkilis followed with a home run over the Green Monster to spoil the shutout bid, but Lackey finished the two-hitter to help the Angels improve the major leagues’ best record to 66-40.

“A no-hitter would have been nice,” Lackey said. “You know what’s going on, but it wasn’t affecting me. I just wanted to win the game.”

Pedroia said Lackey threw him a slider on the first pitch for a called strike, then tried another.

“Even the pitch he threw was a good pitch. I just got the barrel on it,” Pedroia said. “He was awesome. He put on a show. We hit some balls hard, but right at guys.”

Lackey (9-2) almost became the first visiting pitcher in 50 years to toss a no-hitter at Fenway, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Hall of Famer Jim Bunning did it for Detroit on July 20, 1958.

The AL leader in ERA last season, Lackey struck out four and walked two in his 12th career complete game and second this year. He missed the first six weeks of the season with a strained triceps.

As he left the field, he received polite applause from the remnants of a sold-out crowd.

Red Sox fans are growing accustomed to great pitching performances. The past two major league no-hitters were thrown by Boston pitchers at Fenway Park, immortalized by John Updike as a “lyric little bandbox.”

Jon Lester’s gem in May followed Clay Buchholz’s no-hitter last September in his second big league start. Buchholz was the losing pitcher Tuesday night.

“I was more aware actually of him throwing it than I was when I was out there,” Buchholz said. “It’s something special to watch. It’s a lot more fun when it’s one of us.”

Lackey showed no emotion following Pedroia’s single, but he barked for a new ball after Youkilis’ home run.