John Gibbons wasn't exactly happy to see rookie Marcus Stroman lose his no-hitter. Still, it saved the Blue Jays manager from making a tough decision about how long to stick with his young star.

The former Patchogue-Medford High School star and two relievers combined on a one-hitter and Juan Francisco drove in four runs as host Toronto beat the Boston Red Sox, 8-0, yesterday.

Stroman's no-hit bid ended when Shane Victorino blooped a single to center to lead off the seventh. One out later, Victorino was erased on Mike Napoli's double-play grounder.

Stroman (6-2, 3.21 ERA) only allowed two other baserunners on walks and matched a season high by striking out seven in seven innings. The rookie righthander is 5-1 with a 1.54 ERA in seven home starts.

"He's pitching like a veteran who's been around a long time and he's been very successful," Gibbons said. "He shuts down good-hitting teams, he's a great competitor."

Fifteen games into his big- league career, Stroman said he's achieved more than he expected so far. "I knew if I came up here and got settled in, I could pitch well and help our team win every game," he said. "But yeah, I'd definitely say I've surpassed [expectations]. It's definitely been a ride so far."

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Stroman hasn't thrown a complete game since his call-up in May, so Gibbons was wary of overworking him as long as the no-hitter remained intact. "That was going through our minds," said Gibbons, who yanked Stroman after 97 pitches. "I don't know if 'relieved' is the word, but it didn't hurt." Todd Redmond worked the eighth and Rob Rasmussen finished.

Red Sox slugger David Ortiz felt back spasms on a swing in the ninth and was replaced by Jonny Gomes, who flew out to end the game.

"I don't think it's anything serious," Ortiz said.

Francisco tripled and scored in the second, hit a two-run homer in the third and added a two-run single in the fifth as the Blue Jays won for the fifth time in six games.

"Hopefully he's heating up at the right time," Gibbons said.

Baseball videos

Blue Jays outfielder Melky Cabrera went 3-for-4 with a walk and two RBIs. Cabrera scored a run and had three doubles.

Red Sox righthander Rubby De La Rosa (3-3) allowed seven runs (six earned) in four-plus innings, raising his ERA from 2.64 to 3.54. -- AP