By JIMMY GOLEN
The Associated Press
Tuesday, July 29, 2008 10:53 PM
BOSTON -- John Lackey came within two outs of a no-hitter, pitching the Los Angeles Angels past the Boston Red Sox 6-2 Tuesday night on a big day for the AL West leaders.
Hours after the Angels acquired slugger Mark Teixeira in a trade, Lackey blanked Boston until Dustin Pedroia grounded a sharp single through the left side with one out in the ninth.
Kevin Youkilis followed with a home run over Fenway Park's Green Monster to spoil the shutout bid, but Lackey finished the two-hitter to help the Angels (66-40) improve on what was already the best record in baseball.
The right-hander nearly 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.
Lackey (9-2) struck out four and walked two in his 12th career complete game and second this year after missing the first six weeks of the season with a strained triceps. As he left the field, he received polite applause from the fans who had remained from the sellout crowd.
Red Sox rooters 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.
The AL leader in ERA last season, Lackey allowed just two baserunners _ on a hit batsman and a walk _ in the first six innings.
David Ortiz led off the seventh with a long drive that Vladimir Guerrero caught with a hop just a few steps in front of the short bullpen wall in right. Manny Ramirez followed with a chopper down the third-base line; Chone Figgins' throw pulled first baseman Robb Quinlan off the bag, but since Ramirez was in a brisk jog he was out anyway.
The fans let Ramirez know they didn't think he was hustling, booing the enigmatic outfielder who could be traded before Thursday's deadline.
Los Angeles didn't wait, sending first baseman Casey Kotchman and pitching prospect Steve Marek to Atlanta for Teixeira just before the game. Kotchman was in the original lineup, but he changed back into street clothes and left Fenway for the airport less than an hour before the first pitch.
Lackey won Game 7 of the 2002 World Series as a rookie, but the Angels' recent playoff history hasn't been as good. They were swept by Boston in the first round in 2004 and '07 _ both times the Red Sox went on to win the World Series.
This season, the Angels are 7-1 against Boston.
Buchholz (2-6) gave up five earned runs on six hits and three walks, striking out five in 6 1-3 innings. He loaded the bases in the third before Figgins singled and Maicer Izturis walked in a run, then Garret Anderson hit a two-run homer in the fourth to make it 4-0.
Los Angeles took a 6-0 lead in the seventh when Quinlan hit a leadoff triple and scored on Howie Kendrick's sacrifice fly. Izturis hit an infield single with runners on second and third, but Figgins was thrown out trying to score from second.