04/27/2002 3:36 PM ET
Lowe downs Rays in no-hit gem
First no-no at Fenway in 37 years
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
BOSTON -- There was no near no-no for Derek Lowe this time. Just 22 days after having a no-hitter broken up against the Orioles in the eighth inning, the Red Sox righty accomplished the elusive feat Saturday afternoon against the Devil Rays before 32,837 at Fenway Park.
Backed by a barrage of runs, Lowe was dominant from the outset in a 10-0 victory for the Red Sox.
He stifled the Devil Rays with his trademark sinker, and mixed in the cutter that he has improved markedly this season.
"I was nervous the whole way in [the ninth]," Lowe said after the game. "I really thought the second (batter) was going to be a hit. It came off the bat, he hit it good.
"Then I'm one pitch away. I've seen so many guys get to the last pitch, or the last hitter. You don't really know how to react. I've never really stepped through this path before."
In his first full season as a starter, Lowe became the first pitcher to throw a no-hitter at Fenway Park since Boston's Dave Morehead did it against the Indians on Sept. 16, 1965.
Manager Grady Little said he was thrilled for Lowe.
"It was good to see the kid close it out," Little said. "He flirted with it [earlier in the month] and he finished it off out there today. He had everything going for him and he threw strikes."
It was the first no-hitter this season in the Major Leagues, and second for the Red Sox in the last 13 months. Hideo Nomo -- now with the Dodgers -- fired a no-no at Camden Yards against the Orioles on April 4, 2001.
The Fenway fans were on their feet for the entire top of the ninth. Lowe got Russ Felix on a looper to second. Felix Escalona hit a looper to center that was caught on the run by Rickey Henderson. And then the bid was completed when Lowe got Jason Tyner on a grounder to second. He was mobbed by his teammates in the infield.
Henderson said the fly ball was no big deal.
"I got a good jump on it," he said. "It was hit right at me. I was a little low but there really wasn't a problem."
The chance for a perfect game was lost when Lowe walked Brent Abernathy to open the third. But he was flawless from thereafter, retiring the final 20 hitters he faced.
"I do know that after that at-bat [third inning walk], I knew it was going to be a long day simply because he had unbelievable movement on his sinker today," Abernathy said. "I saw five sinkers in that at-bat alone. It was ridiculous how much he had it moving today."
The closest Tampa Bay came to a hit before Henderson's impressive catch was in the top of the fourth, when Steve Cox hit a looping fly ball toward the line in right field. However, Trot Nixon preserved Lowe's bid, racing over and snaring the ball in full stride.
Lowe's most dominant inning was the sixth, when he struck out the side.
He got all the offense he would need when Henderson belted the 80th leadoff homer of his career -- extending his own record -- to open the Boston first.
Then the Sox broke it open off Delvin James in the third inning, sending 10 men to the plate and erupting for six runs.
Again it was Henderson setting the tone. Making a rare start in center field in place of the injured Johnny Damon, Henderson smashed a high single off the wall in left to open the inning. He scored on Manny Ramirez's single. After Brian Daubach was intentionally waled to load the bases, Shea Hillenbrand smacked an RBI single to make it 3-0 and hand James an early shower.
Red Sox ace Pedro Martinez, who has three Cy Young awards, but has never thrown a no-no said, "I told [John] Burkett in the eighth that he was going to throw one. The way his sinker was down, their batters had no idea. I think he is capable of pitching many more. I don't think we've seen the best yet of Derek Lowe."
But the Sox continued to do damage against reliever Jorge Sosa. Jason Varitek belted a two-run double to right, and Rey Sanchez added an RBI single, giving Lowe a 7-0 lead when he took the mound in the fourth.
Devil Rays manager Hal McRae summed it up pretty easily after the excitement died down at Fenway.
"Well, it was pretty simple today," McRae said. "They had all the hits and all the runs. We used five pitchers; they used one. We made two errors; they made none and Lowe pitched an outstanding ballgame."
For the rest of the day, Lowe held center stage on an afternoon he will never forget.
"How do you prepare for this?" Lowe asked. "You really can't, unless you're there and feel the emotion of what it's like to be that close. It's very gratifying when it's over."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.