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Braves barely avoid allowing perfect game

Teixeira saves Braves from getting no hit

POSTED: July 12, 2008 5:01 a.m.
The Associated Press/

Atlanta Braves' Chipper Jones reacts to a strike on a pitch from Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Hiroki Kuroda Monday during the fourth inning at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles,

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LOS ANGELES — Hiroki Kuroda took a perfect game into the eighth inning and settled for a one-hitter, leading Los Angeles to a 3-0 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Monday night.

The win moved the Dodgers in a tie for first in the NL West with idle Arizona.

Kuroda (5-6) retired the first 21 batters before Mark Teixeira lined the right-hander's 70th pitch into the right field corner for a double leading off the eighth. He was the only Atlanta baserunner.

The Braves flew across the country after waiting through a 1-hour, 50-minute rain delay in a 7-6, 17-inning victory over Houston on Sunday in the longest game ever at Turner Field.

Kuroda was attempting to become the first Dodger to throw a no-hitter since countryman Hideo Nomo on Sept. 17, 1996, 9-0 at Colorado. Kuroda, 33, signed with the Dodgers in December as a free agent after 11 seasons with Hiroshima of the Japanese Central League. He threw 91 pitches and struck out six in a game that lasted just 2 hours and 3 minutes.

The closest the Braves came to a baserunner before Teixeira's hit was in the seventh, when Gregor Blanco dropped a bunt to the left of the plate on Kuroda's first pitch of the inning. Rookie third baseman Blake DeWitt made a barehanded pickup and threw him out by a step.

Kuroda was sidelined 18 days because of a sore shoulder. He rejoined the rotation on July 2 at Houston and held the Astros to five hits over seven innings in a 4-1 victory. The complete game was the second in 15 starts for Kuroda, who beat the Chicago Cubs 3-0 with a four-hitter and had a career-high 11 strikeouts on June 6 at Dodger Stadium.

Jose Campillo (3-4) took a one-hitter into the fifth before the Dodgers scored their runs. The right-hander walked James Loney to open the inning, and Nomar Garciaparra drove a 1-2 pitch into the bullpen in left one out later for his second homer of the season.

Kuroda who bunted three pitches foul with a runner at first in the third inning, sacrificed DeWitt to second after he singled. Matt Kemp drove in DeWitt with a single. Kemp is 8-for-29 with six walks since manager Joe Torre switched him to the leadoff spot seven games ago.

Campillo allowed three runs and five hits over seven innings in his Dodger Stadium debut.

With only five games left before the All-Star break, the Braves (42-48) are assured of going into the break under .500 for only the third time in the last 18 seasons. It also happened in 1991 (39-40) and 2006 (40-49).

Atlanta right fielder Jeff Francoeur, who was demoted to Double-A Mississippi on Friday because of his .234 batting average, rejoined the Braves on an emergency recall after outfielder Omar Infante (right hamstring) was placed on the disabled list with right-handers Manny Acosta (left hamstring) and Jeff Bennett (right shoulder).

Under normal circumstances, Francoeur would have had to spend 10 days in the minors. The four-year veteran, who had four hits Sunday in his third game with Mississippi and was 7-for-13 during his three-game stint in the minors, would have been in the starting lineup against the Dodgers but was unable to get on an earlier flight.

The Braves filled the other two roster spots by recalling infielder Brent Lillibridge from Triple-A Richmond and purchasing the contract of right-hander Vladimir Nunez from their Southern League club.

Notes: The last pitcher to no-hit the Braves was Randy Johnson, who threw a perfect game for the Diamondbacks on May 18, 2004 at Turner Field. ... No Dodgers pitcher has thrown a no-hitter at Chavez Ravine since Ramon Martinez's 7-0 gem against Florida on July 14, 1995. ... Atlanta's Chipper Jones went 0-for-3, dropping his major league-leading average to .384... Atlanta has six pitchers on the DL, including John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, Mike Hampton, Rafael Soriano, Peter Moylan and Anthony Lerew. ... The Braves have a major league-low 13 saves, and eight pitchers have at least one.



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