BOSTON — Chicago Cubs Jake Arrieta came close to accomplishing something seldom seen at Fenway Park on Monday night.
When it was over, he received something even more rare.
Arrieta carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning, walking off the field to a standing ovation from the Fenway faithful after it was broken up, and the Cubs beat the Boston Red Sox 2-0 in the opener of a three-game series.
“Something like that in Fenway is pretty rare for an opposing team. So, yeah, I got some goosebumps there,” said Arrieta, who threw a season-high 120 pitches. “That’s why you play this game, for moments like that. I was very thankful to be a part of something like that.”
Arrieta had allowed just one baserunner, on a fifth-inning walk, and struck out 10 before shortstop Stephen Drew singled with two outs in the eighth to break up the gem.
It was the second time in as many starts that Arrieta (5-1) flirted with history. He took a perfect game into the seventh inning against the Cincinnati Reds on June 24 at Wrigley Field.
“The tension kind of built there as the fifth and sixth innings approach and kind of subsides,” Arrieta said. “It was special to do it last week in Wrigley, and to do it here in these two parks is pretty special.”
He was looking to become the fourth pitcher this season and second in six days to toss a no-hitter. San Francisco’s Tim Lincecum held the San Diego Padres hitless Wednesday, joining the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Josh Beckett and Clayton Kershaw in pitching no-hitters this season.
The Red Sox haven’t been no-hit since current Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio accomplished the feat against them on April 22, 1993.
Drew ensured it wouldn’t happen again.
After getting first baseman Mike Napoli looking on a fastball to start the eighth and inducing third baseman Xander Bogaerts to fly out to center for the second out, Arrieta ran the count to 2-2 against Drew before the veteran shortstop lined a fastball into right field, ending Arrieta’s bid and his night.
The 28-year-old twice tipped his cap toward the appreciative crowd as he walked toward the dugout.
“He located everything. He’s got great stuff,” said Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia. “He kept every pitch out of the zone. I had three at-bats and I don’t think I got one good pitch to hit.”
Reliever Pedro Strop came on and got center fielder Mookie Betts to fly out on the first pitch, and Hector Rondon allowed one hit and no runs in the ninth for his 10th save of the year.
Right fielder Nate Schierholtz hit a two-run homer for the Cubs, who won for the fourth time in 10 games.
Arrieta started the season on the disabled list due to right shoulder tightness and didn’t make his first start until May 3. He had not thrown more than 105 pitches in any of his 10 outings this season.
“I knew the lease would be lengthened due to the situation,” Arrieta said. “I had a little more in the tank because I didn’t have to hit.”
Arrieta breezed through Boston’s lineup early, retiring the first 13 batters he faced before walking Napoli in the fifth. He got Bogaerts to line out to left and struck out Drew to keep the no-no intact.
“I think he’s found his routine and trusts his stuff,” Bosio said.
After requiring just 10 pitches to retire the side in the sixth, Arrieta needed only 13 to cruise through the seventh, striking out left fielder Daniel Nava and Pedroia before designated hitter David Ortiz grounded out weakly into the shift.
“Three above-average pitches with above-average command. He was outstanding,” said Boston manager John Farrell. “We break up a no-hitter in the eighth inning, you give credit to a talented guy who was on tonight.”
Boston right-hander Jake Peavy (1-7) allowed two runs on five hits over six innings, striking out seven and walking two while dropping his seventh straight decision. The right-hander hasn’t won since April 25, a span of 12 starts.
After yielding two hits in the first and a double to Schierholtz in the second, Peavy settled down and retired seven straight before walking catcher Welington Castillo on a full count with two outs in the fourth. Schierholtz drove the next pitch into Boston’s bullpen for his fourth homer of the year and a 2-0 Chicago lead.