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Hits keep coming for Sox -- sort of

BOSTON -- Of course, I blame my editors.

They slapped a headline on my story Monday afternoon that read, Pedroia: Hits Are Coming.

How they got that idea, I’ll never know. Maybe because I was dictating my column from the Acela somewhere in Connecticut, and you know how bad the cellphone reception can get around Bridgeport.

Here’s what I told them to write:

Pedroia: Hit Is Coming

So, on behalf of my editors, let me apologize if you came to Fenway Park Monday night expecting to see the Mookie Sox swing the bats like they had the night before in Yankee Stadium, when everyone in the lineup collected at least one hit, eight Sox runners crossed the plate and rush orders were placed on “Betts-er Late than Never” T-shirts. Instead, they saw the Sox nearly get no-hit for the first time at Fenway Park in almost 56 years in a 2-0 loss to the Chicago Cubs.

The beating the Sox laid on the Yankees Sunday night was against Chase Whitley, a guy so little known you could have been told his name was Whitley Chase and have been none the wiser.

Had my bosses done their homework, they would have known the Red Sox would do no such thing Monday night against Mr. Jake Arrieta of the Chicago Almighty Cubs, who warmed up for his outing against the Sox by throwing six perfect innings against the Cincinnati Reds in his last start. And as any Red Sox fan with a good memory can tell you, that’s no easy task against Pete Rose, Johnny Bench and Joe Morgan.

That’s the problem with bosses: They tend to go by first impressions, and the Arrieta they remember is the guy who used to pitch for the Baltimore Orioles and regularly got lit up by the Sox -- 0-3 record with a 5.90 ERA in six career starts against Boston.

They obviously overlooked the transformation that can take place when you go to work for the Cubs. Look at what that’s done for the career of Theo Epstein, whose 25-year plan to make a winner out of the Wrigleys is right on schedule.

Bruins fans could have told them: Just like you don’t poke the Bear, you don’t tickle the Cubby, either.

Epstein, along with former Sox sidekick Jed Hoyer, is the guy who traded for Arrieta almost a year ago to the day -- July 2 -- and on a night like this, you can understand why the Chicago Sun-Times, upon his arrival to town, had a cover shot of Theo walking on Lake Michigan. Not on the shores of Lake Michigan. On the lake. That takes some real talent.

Walk on water, throw a no-hitter, miracles cut from the same cloth. Arrieta clearly had the right stuff Monday night -- a rising fastball that held steady at 95 mph, a cutter that claimed both sides of the plate and a curveball that played peek-a-boo with the strike zone.

“I’ve faced him before,’’ said Sox catcher David Ross, noting that Arrieta on Monday night was a deceptive so-and-so, the way he set up on the third-base side of the rubber and threw across his body. “He’s definitely improved.’’

The Red Sox have had that effect on pitchers this season. This, remember, is a team that finished the month of June at the bottom of the heap in every hitting category -- batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage.

But on this night, Arrieta clearly took it a step beyond. He struck out 10 and didn’t allow a ball out of the infield until Mookie Betts lined out to right with two out in the third. The Sox squared up a few balls, but no one came close to a hit through the first seven innings, and suddenly Jim Bunning was about to trend on Twitter for the first time since his Senate career crashed and burned.

Before he became a politician, the distinguished gentleman from Kentucky made pitches of another sort for a living, well enough to become a Hall of Famer.

He also was the last pitcher to throw a no-hitter against the Sox in Fenway Park, on July 20, 1958.

No one is nominating Arrieta for Cooperstown yet, nor for Capitol Hill, for that matter.

But Monday night, he was king of the hill at Fenway.

“I had three at-bats,’’ Dustin Pedroia lamented afterward. “I don’t think I got one pitch to hit.’’

Mike Napoli looked at a fastball on the black for a called third strike to start the eighth. Xander Bogaerts hit a routine fly to center, and 37,814 fans were trying to figure out how to take a selfie with Jake.

But then, Pedroia’s prediction came to pass, and Stephen Drew lined a single to right field, perhaps the first time in history a no-hitter was broken up by a no-hitter (.133 average coming in).

Arrieta’s work was done, and the Fenway crowd touched Arrieta in a way Sox hitters never did, rising as one in an ovation that had him waving his cap overhead in appreciation.

“It gave me goosebumps,’’ Arrieta said.

So the Sox had their hit, and for good measure, A.J. Pierzynski added a pinch single off reliever Hector Rondon in the ninth. That was all. The Sox matched their season low with two hits, and were shut out for the eighth time.

But today July arrives, and with it, the promise of a new storyline. I have just the one:

Pedroia: Hits Are Coming