BOSTON — Jon Lester was inducing Toronto’s aggressive batters to make outs by getting them to swing at first pitches — until Macier Izturis came up in the sixth.
First pitch. Two-out double to left field. End of bid for perfect game and no-hitter.
But Izturis was the only Blue Jay to reach base as the Boston Red Sox broke a three-game losing streak with a 5-0 win on Friday night.
“The no-hitter, perfect game, all that stuff, the stars got to be perfectly aligned for you,” Lester said.
He should know.
Lester (5-0) threw a no-hitter on May 19, 2008, beating the Kansas City Royals 7-0. Just nine days shy of the fifth anniversary of that gem, the left-hander retired the first 17 batters before Izturis lined a clean double several feet over the outstretched arm of third baseman Will Middlebrooks that landed just inside the foul line. Lester then ended the inning by striking out pinch-hitter Adam Lind.
“If that ball’s two feet to (the) left, it’s right at him,” Lester said. “Good pitch, what we wanted to throw especially to an aggressive hitter. He did a good job of hitting it.”
Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia could have a tough time forgetting it.
“As soon as the game was over I started thinking about it,” he said. “Changeup, first pitch. I’m going to have nightmares about it to be honest with you.”
The closest the Blue Jays came to another hit was Brett Lawrie’s low liner starting the sixth that center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury caught easily.
“He was throwing everything,” Toronto’s J.P. Arencibia said. “I think he used our aggressiveness against us a little bit. He’s pretty special when you could throw cutter, sinker, four-seam, hook, changeup, and on both sides of the plate. The guy’s one of the best in the game for a reason. He showed that tonight.”
Lester wasn’t the only pitcher to give up only one hit Friday. St. Louis’ Shelby Miller gave up a leadoff single then retired 27 in a row in a 3-0 victory over Colorado.
Lester finished with five strikeouts in the 10th complete game and third shutout of his career, effectively mixing his pitches and locating them precisely. He threw just 118 pitches — only 58 in the first five innings — and retired the first batter in each of the first three innings on one pitch apiece.
“We’ve always seen him good. He’s one of the better ones in the game,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said. “He carved us up pretty good tonight.”
But the Red Sox led only 1-0 before scoring four runs in the seventh.
“In the seventh we were able to bunch some hits together, which was kind of elusive,” Boston manager John Farrell said.
Boston continued to waste numerous opportunities. It left runners on base in each of the first seven innings after stranding runners in all nine innings of Thursday night’s 5-3 win over the Minnesota Twins.
They scored in the second against Ramon Ortiz (0-1) when Daniel Nava walked, took third on a single by Saltalamacchia and scored when shortstop Izturis fielded Middlebrooks’ grounder but his throw to start a potential inning-ending double play eluded second baseman Mark DeRosa.
The Red Sox finally built a comfortable lead in the seventh.
Singles by Ellsbury and Shane Victorino put runners at first and second and they moved up on a wild pitch by Brett Cecil. Dustin Pedroia singled in a run, but the next two batters struck out. Then Saltalamacchia doubled in two runs and Middlebrooks drove in another with his second double of the game.
Friday’s outing was the fourth time Lester allowed just one hit while pitching at least seven innings — and the third time against Toronto.
The other two were over eight innings in a 1-0 win in Boston on April 29, 2008, and seven innings in a 2-0 win at Toronto on April 28, 2010. He also did it against Kansas City in eight innings of a 1-0 win on July 18, 2006.
Then there was the no-hitter in his first full season when he relied on veteran catcher Jason Varitek to tell him what to throw.
“I feel like back then (I was) such a thrower, not really a pitcher. I think the best way to put it is, effectively wild for my no-hitter,” Lester said. “Now, obviously going through this a couple of times and (I’m) a little bit more mature and understanding what I’m trying to do.”
And that made his catcher’s job simpler.
“My job was easy. I put the glove there and he hit it,” Saltalamacchia said. “I don’t think whoever we were facing could have hit him.”
YANKEES 11, ROYALS 6
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Lyle Overbay hit a two-run homer and finished with five RBIs, Ichiro Suzuki also hit a two-run shot and the Yankees opened their only series in Kansas City with a rout of the Royals.
Overbay finished with a career-high four hits, Suzuki had three hits and Chris Nelson drove in a pair of runs for the Yankees, who gave manager Joe Girardi his 500th win in pinstripes.
Girardi reached the milestone in his 844th game, one fewer than Billy Martin. The only Yankees managers to reach the mark faster were Casey Stengel, Joe McCarthy, Joe Torre and Miller Huggins.
Phil Hughes (2-2) allowed six runs in 5 2-3 innings but still earned the victory, thanks to a slumbering offense that awoke against Royals starter Wade Davis and reliever Bruce Chen.
Davis (2-3) allowed seven runs in five-plus innings.
TIGERS 10, INDIANS 4
DETROIT — Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera each hit a long home run, and the Tigers beat the Indians.
The Tigers scored three runs in the second and three more in the fourth. Fielder’s third-inning solo shot landed just below the No. 42 honoring Jackie Robinson on the brick facade beyond the wall in right-center field, giving Detroit a 4-1 lead.
Cabrera’s three-run homer the following inning landed below Hank Greenberg’s retired No. 5 in left-center at Comerica Park.
Detroit’s Max Scherzer (5-0) allowed four runs and five hits in eight innings. He struck out seven without a walk.
Corey Kluber (2-2) allowed eight runs and 11 hits in 4 2-3 innings.
RANGERS 4, ASTROS 2
HOUSTON — Jeff Baker hit a tiebreaking home run in the seventh, and Texas relievers threw 3 1-3 hitless innings to lead the Rangers to a win over the Astros.
Baker greeted Wesley Wright (0-1) with a leadoff home run to right field to give the Rangers their first lead of the night at 3-2.
Robbie Ross (1-0) pitched 1 1-3 perfect innings before Tanner Scheppers pitched the eighth and Joe Nathan the ninth for his 10th save of the season.
Nelson Cruz and David Murphy also hit home runs for the Rangers. Murphy’s shot leading off the ninth inning against Travis Blackley extended the Rangers’ lead.
Trevor Crowe homered for Houston.
ANGELS 7, WHITE SOX 5
CHICAGO — Mike Trout had two hits, including the go-ahead single in the seventh inning, to lead the Angels to a 7-5 win over the White Sox.
Hank Conger reached on Conor Gillaspie’s error to start the inning and scored on Trout’s sharp single to right off reliever Matt Lindstrom that gave the Angels a 6-5 lead. J.B. Shuck then scored on a passed ball.
The Angels built a 5-1 lead after Brendan Harris homered in the fourth. He had three hits and scored twice. The White Sox rallied in the bottom half of the inning scoring four to tie it.
Michael Kohn (1-0) pitched an inning of scoreless relief for the win. Ernesto Frieri allowed a leadoff walk to Alexei Ramirez in the ninth but struck out the side and picked up his sixth save in seven attempts.
Chicago starter Dylan Axelrod (0-3) took the loss.
ORIOLES 9, TWINS 6, 10 innings
MINNEAPOLIS — Manny Machado had a tiebreaking RBI single in Baltimore’s three-run as the Orioles rallied for a win over the Twins.
Machado — who stayed in the game after fouling a ball off his ankle in the fifth — rolled a single into right field that scored Chris Dickerson and broke a 6-all tie. Nick Markakis added a sacrifice fly and Adam Jones an RBI double to cap the scoring in the 10th.
Tommy Hunter (3-1) didn’t allow a run in 2 1-3 innings. Jim Johnson pitched a scoreless bottom of the 10th for his 35th consecutive save — dating back to last season — to set an Orioles franchise record.
Anthony Swarzak (1-1) allowed all three runs in the 10th.
Baltimore scored all its runs in the last five innings after trailing 6-0 to start the sixth.
MARINERS 6, ATHLETICS 3
SEATTLE — Hisashi Iwakuma retired 16 straight over one stretch of a solid seven-inning outing, Raul Ibanez homered for the first time in nearly a month and the Mariners beat the Athletics.
Iwakuma (4-1) took a one-hitter into the sixth inning before running into trouble, putting together another impressive outing to help cement himself and Felix Hernandez as one of the top rotation duos in baseball. Iwakuma has allowed five earned runs over his last five starts, and the number could have been even smaller if not for a scoring change that ended up tagging him with two earned runs against the A’s.
Iwakuma pitched ahead nearly from the start after Seattle scored twice in the first off Oakland starter Dan Straily (1-1). Seattle broke the game open with Ibanez’s three-run homer in the third inning that came with two outs.
RAYS 6, PADRES 3
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Alex Cobb struck out 13 in less than five innings and Ryan Roberts and Ben Zobrist drove in two runs apiece to help the Rays rally for a victory over the Padres.
Cobb became the first pitcher in major league history to fan that many batters and fail to make it through the fifth. The right-hander left after throwing 117 pitches. He recorded 12 of 14 outs on strikeouts — four of them in the third, when a wild pitch on strike three allowed Will Venable to reach base.
The other outs were recorded on a grounders to shortstop in the first and third base in the fourth.
Roberts and Zobrist both delivered two-run singles in the seventh, when reliever Dale Thayer (0-2) inherited a 3-2 lead from Padres starter Edinson Volquez. Jake McGee (1-2) pitched one inning for the victory, and Fernando Rodney worked a scoreless ninth for his fifth save.
NATIONALS 7, CUBS 3
WASHINGTON — Ian Desmond’s three hits included a two-run homer and an RBI double, and Danny Espinosa and Kurt Suzuki also drove in runs with doubles, helping Washington get its season-high fifth consecutive victory.
Despite playing without Bryce Harper (ingrown toenail) or Jayson Werth (injured right hamstring), the Nationals won for the seventh time in eight games. Ross Detwiler (2-3) gave up two runs in 6 2-3 innings, and Craig Stammen got the last seven outs.
Chicago’s Jeff Samardzija (1-5) lost his fifth decision in a row by allowing seven runs — five earned — and eight hits. He threw 73 pitches in his five innings, matching his shortest outing of the season.
PIRATES 7, METS 3
NEW YORK — Garrett Jones hit a three-run homer — a call that was correctly overturned by baseball’s beleaguered umpires — and Wandy Rodriguez pitched Pittsburgh past New York.
Jones doubled twice and leadoff man Starling Marte also had three hits for the Pirates, who improved to 4-13 at Citi Field. Pittsburgh had lost four of five overall, including the opener of this four-game series Thursday.
Handed an early lead, Rodriguez (3-2) allowed six hits over six innings to win for the first time in four starts and held New York to 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position. Jason Grilli came on to get Ruben Tejada with two on for the final out, making him perfect in 14 save chances this season.
Shaun Marcum (0-3) gave up six runs and nine hits in 4 2-3 innings for the Mets.
REDS 4, BREWERS 3
CINCINNATI— Brandon Phillips homered and made a spectacular rally-busting play — using his left knee to get a forceout and start a double play — as Cincinnati beat Milwaukee.
Phillips had an RBI single off Yovani Gallardo (3-2) and added a solo homer in the seventh after making a saving play in the top of the inning. With two Brewers aboard, he got to Ryan Braun’s grounder up the middle, tagged second base with his left knee while falling down and threw to first for a double play.
Milwaukee got solo homers from Jean Segura and Braun, but lost for the seventh time in eight games.
Alfredo Simon (3-1) threw two innings in relief of rookie left-hander Tony Cingrani.
DIAMONDBACKS 3, PHILLIES 2
PHOENIX — Miguel Montero hit a tiebreaking home to lead off the eighth inning, Ian Kennedy shook off a shaky start to pitch seven innings and Arizona won its fifth straight.
The Diamondbacks struggled against Phillies starter Tyler Cloyd, but scratched out a run in the seventh and went ahead when Montero hit the first pitch thrown by Mike Adams (1-3) in the eighth off the foul pole in right.
Kennedy gave up a leadoff homer to Jimmy Rollilns and two runs in the first inning before settling down to keep Arizona in it.
Tony Sipp (2-1) got two outs in the eighth inning and David Hernandez worked out of a jam in the ninth for his first save.
GIANTS 8, BRAVES 2
SAN FRANCISCO — Matt Cain pitched eight strong innings and San Francisco beat Tim Hudson for the first time in seven years in the Giants’ 8-2 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Friday night.
Cain (2-2) allowed three hits and added an RBI single during a six-run rally in the fourth inning.
Hudson (4-2) was cruising until the fourth when the Giants batted around and scored six runs. Marco Scutaro had two hits, including a two-run single during the inning.
The Braves’ veteran right-hander had been 6-0 with a 2.48 ERA against San Francisco since losing to them on April 8, 2006.
MARLINS 5, DODGERS 4
LOS ANGELES— Derek Dietrich tied the game with his first major league home run, Juan Pierre singled in the go-ahead run in the seventh inning and Miami dealt Los Angeles its eighth straight loss.
The Dodgers blew an early lead for the second straight game in equaling their longest skid since dropping eight in a row from Aug. 22-29, 2008.
Miami ended its own three-game losing streak in the matchup of cellar dwellers. The Marlins have the NL’s worst record at 11-25, and got outscored 11-1 during a three-game sweep in San Diego.
Florida rookie Jose Fernandez (2-2) allowed three runs and eight hits in six innings, struck out seven and walked two for his second major league win.
Ronald Belisario (2-4) took the loss, giving up two runs and three hits in one-plus innings.