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05/20/08 1:24 AM ET

No-hitter not possible without Ellsbury

Center fielder's diving catch the big play in Lester's feat

BOSTON -- At the time, Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury didn't know the importance of his diving catch to end the fourth inning on Monday, when he snared a sinking line drive off the bat of Royals designated hitter Jose Guillen.

"I'm just thinking, 'Go get it,'" Ellsbury said. "[Right fielder] J.D. [Drew], I knew he was backing me up on there. So in that situation, I can lay out and go for it, knowing that he's going to back me up, and now [as] I look back at it, I'm really happy I made that catch."

The diving, tumbling catch -- after a full sprint in and to his left -- turned out to be the defensive gem in Jon Lester's first career no-hitter on Monday.

"He got a great jump on it," Lester said. "I did turn around and see him and he was running. He didn't start back, he was running right in. I was just glad he caught it. He made a great catch, and he's been doing that all year for us."

"It's a great catch," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "When you have that type of ability you can do it. But it was a great catch. He got a good jump and it was a nice play."

The web gem occurred early in the game, and Ellsbury didn't realize Lester had yet to yield a hit to the Royals.

"After the catch, actually, I realized he had a no-hitter going, and it was nice having that cushion, knowing if there's anything around you, you can lay out," Ellsbury said. "But he pitched tremendously.

"Obviously, the poise and the confidence and just how relaxed he was going through the seventh, eighth, ninth innings, you know, what can I say?"

Ellsbury didn't have to say anything. His glove did all the talking.

"I look back at it, and you just don't want to be that one play that cost a no-hitter," Ellsbury said. "Especially later on in the game, you're going to run through the wall, you're going to dive, you're going to make any play possible to try and keep them from getting a hit. But he had tremendous composure on the mound."

Although still just a rookie, it was the second Sox no-hitter that Ellsbury has experienced from the field

"I was in left field when Clay [Buchholz] had his no-hitter [on Sept. 1, 2007, against the Orioles at Fenway Park], and I came in, I think, in the seventh or eighth inning," said Ellsbury, who replaced Manny Ramirez in left in the eighth inning on Monday night, with Coco Crisp taking over in center.

"I was just hoping when we made the defensive substitution, I was just hoping I wasn't the jinx when Tito sent me out there and they'd get a knock. But playing the whole game [Monday night], they're both exciting."

Maureen Mullen is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.