For an eighth-inning single, the roars at Fenway Park were oddly overwhelming.
Part of it was frustration at waiting nearly three hours for the Red Sox to finally get in the hit column, frustration at watching Cubs starter Jake Arrieta pull the strings on every hitter in the Sox lineup.
Part of it was relief that someone had actually gotten Arrieta to crack.
That someone was Stephen Drew, who came into Monday’s game in a 2-for-35 slump.
Arrieta had struck Drew out twice by the time the shortstop stepped to the plate with two outs in the eighth inning. But Drew got ahead, 2 and 0, swung at a slider, stared at a fastball, and fouled off the next two pitches. When Arrieta went to his cutter on the seventh pitch of the at-bat, Drew jumped on it and laced it into right field.
The single kept the Sox’ streak of not being no-hit at 21 years, and that run is 56 years at Fenway.
Drew’s hit also ended Arrieta’s night, but his work pushed the Cubs to a 2-0 win in the series opener. Three Chicago pitchers held the Sox to two hits.
Arrieta left the mound to a mix of cheers out of respect for the work he did over 7⅔ innings and boos at the fact that he had held the Sox lineup hostage for so long.
It hadn’t even been a week since he took a perfect game into the seventh against the Reds in Chicago.
“Another special night,” Arrieta said. “Special to do it in this ballpark, to do something like this last week in Wrigley then do it here, these two parks, is pretty special. We won. That’s obviously the biggest thing from tonight.”
From the Sox dugout, Jake Peavy could respect Arrieta’s outing even if it spoiled his own.
“He was awfully good,” Peavy said. “You’ve got to tip your hat to how good he was. That being said, it’s frustrating to lose. Our fans appreciate a good effort. That was more than a good effort. It was a great effort by him.
“It’s always cool to see your fans acknowledge a great performance, it’s just hard to enjoy that when you’re on the wrong end of it.”
If there was one person who was happy to greet Arrieta in the Cubs dugout after he lost the no-hitter, it was pitching coach Chris Bosio, the last pitcher to no-hit the Sox, in April 1993 with the Mariners.
If the Sox needed a heat check on Arrieta coming in, all they had to do was look at his previous four starts.
He shut the Marlins out over six innings and piled up seven strikeouts. He piled up nine K’s in Philadelphia, then 11 in Miami, then nine against Cincinnati. For the four-start stretch, Arrieta went 3-0 with a 1.00 ERA.
“We were well aware of his abilities, the type of pitches that he does have,” said Sox manager John Farrell. “But when you combine the three-pitch mix with the command, there’s a reason he’s been on a roll as he has.”
The Sox returned to Fenway after hitting .233 and leaving 64 runners on base over a 10-game road trip. Searching for answers — and offense — Farrell used his 72d different lineup in 83 games.
Still, it was powerless.
Arrieta force-fed the Sox fastballs, sliders, sinkers, and curveballs — often in the same at-bat — and there was nothing the Sox could do with them.
By the seventh inning, Arrieta had run his strikeout total to seven. The two youngest Sox — Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts — had refused to go down swinging.
Otherwise, everyone in the Sox lineup was victimized.
Dustin Pedroia went down twice, including in the seventh, when Arrieta fired a shoulder-high heater that left Pedroia swatting at air.
David Ross had faced Arrieta twice before, three years ago when Ross was a Brave and Arrieta was an Oriole.
“I just remember seeing his ball a lot better than I did today,” Ross said. “It felt like he was throwing almost behind me and locating down and away, that’s tough to do. You ask any pitcher, it’s probably one of the hardest things to do.”
All Ross could do against Arrieta on Monday was bounce a slider to shortstop in the third inning and wave at a curveball in the sixth.
“I think he’s figured some things out,” Ross said. “I’ve faced him before and he’s definitely improved.”
In six innings, Peavy gave up just two runs on five hits, with seven strikeouts.
But a two-pitch sequence in the fourth inning all but sealed his fate.
With two outs and the count full to Welington Castillo, Peavy went down and in with a fastball. The pitch was on the edge of the plate. Ross ever so slightly shifted his glove closer in to frame it as a strike. Castillo hopped back in the box to convince plate umpire Chris Conroy otherwise.
When Conroy told Castillo to take his base, Peavy was fuming, barking at himself on the mound.
“It was over the white of the plate, I do know that,” Peavy said. “Just didn’t get a call. The umpire was a little tight tonight.”
One pitch later, Nate Schierholtz blasted a knee-high fastball into the Sox bullpen for a two-run home run.
“That was the game,” Peavy said. “It’s frustrating losing. You don’t want to lose and when you made the mistake to cost your team the chance to win, it hurts. Little things . . . you get that third called strike and you’re in the dugout, the game could’ve played out a little differently.
“The way it’s been going on my day, obviously, you don’t get the call and the next pitch you give up a two-run homer and it decides the game. Just gotta clean that up.”
For the third time this season, Peavy didn’t get a single run of support.
In seven of his nine starts at Fenway this season, Peavy’s allowed three or fewer runs. He walked off the mound Monday with his 10th quality start of the season, but still just one win to show for it.
“When you have quality starts most of the time around here, you’ll take it and it’s plenty good enough to win, for years now in this uniform,” Peavy said. “It’s just one of those years where those quality starts have been matching up on days we haven’t scored a whole lot and your record doesn’t look so hot.”
Eventually, Peavy said, things will begin to break his way.
“It’s going to change,” Peavy said. “This isn’t going to keep happening. I promise you, I’ve got my head down and just working. It’ll change. There’s going to be games where we score five, six, seven runs on the day I start. I’m not going to give in and believe this is how it’s going to be for the remaining 16, 17 starts.”
Julian Benbow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.