BOSTON, April 27 (UPI) -- Making the conversion from closer to starter this season, Boston's Derek Lowe became the first pitcher to throw a no-hitter at Fenway Park in 37 years Saturday, victimizing the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, 10-0.
"Not in my wildest dreams did I think this would happen," Lowe said as he stood at home plate to salute the fans after the game.
Three-time Cy Young Award winner Pedro Martinez has threatened to pull off the feat, but instead it was Lowe, who recorded 66 saves the previous two seasons before being moved into the rotation for the 2002 season. He fell six outs shy of a no-hitter in his first start on April 5.
Using a 90 mile-per-hour fastball, sinker and effective changeup, Lowe faced just one batter over the minimum. He walked Brent Abernathy to lead off the third inning and retired the next 21 in a row.
With the crowd on its feet in the ninth inning, Lowe retired Russ Johnson on a weak popout to second and rookie Felix Escalona on a fly ball to left-center that was tracked down by center fielder Rickey Henderson.
Jason Tyner grounded a 2-2 pitch to second baseman Rey Sanchez, who calmly threw to first baseman Jose Offerman for the final out. Lowe hugged third baseman Shea Hillenbrand before he was mobbed by the rest of his teammates.
The 28-year-old righthander threw 97 pitches, 66 for strikes. He struck out six and retired 13 on groundouts, five on flyouts and three of infield popouts.
Dave Morehead of the Red Sox was the last pitcher to throw a no-hitter at Fenway Park on Sept. 16, 1965 against Cleveland.
Mike Mussina of the New York Yankees was one strike away from a perfect game here last Sept. 2 before pinch-hitter Carl Everett singled.
Hideo Nomo was the last Boston pitcher to throw a no-hitter, victimizing the Baltimore Orioles, 3-0, on April 4, 2001.
Tampa Bay was no-hit for the first time in the franchise's five-year history. The Devil Rays began the day with a major league-low .212 batting average on the road.
In the last two years, Martinez and Tim Wakefield of the Red Sox both had no-hit bids at Tampa Bay spoiled in the ninth inning.
Bud Smith of the St. Louis Cardinals threw the major leagues' last no-hitter on Sept. 3 against the San Diego Padres.
Lowe made three late-season starts in 2001 after losing his job as closer. In his first outing this season, he made an immediate impression, carrying a no-hitter into the eighth inning of a 3-0 win over the Orioles on April 5.
"I was trying to reflect on how I felt in Baltimore and how nervous I was then," Lowe said.
Tampa Bay's Delvin James (0-2) made his third start since being recalled from Class AAA Durham on April 15 when Wilson Alvarez was placed on the disabled list. But his day did not get off to a good start as Henderson drilled his second pitch over the "Green Monster" in left.
It was the 80th career leadoff home run for Henderson, extending his major league record.
Boston erupted for five hits and six runs in the third inning.
Henderson led off with a single and Offerman walked. One out later, Manny Ramirez singled in Henderson and took second on the throw to third. After Brian Daubach was intentionally walked, Hillenbrand delivered an RBI single to knock out James.
Jason Varitek greeted reliever Jorge Sosa with a ground-rule double, plating Ramirez and Daubach, and Sanchez capped the inning with a two-run single.
Nomar Garciaparra doubled in a run in the fourth to increase the lead to 8-0 and extend his hitting streak to 12 games. He added an RBI single in the eighth.