for this game

Kuroda tosses one-hitter, blanks Braves

Jul 8, 2008 - 6:02 AM By John Reger PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- Perfection wasn't quite in the cards for Hiroki Kuroda on Monday night, but he did give the Los Angeles Dodgers their first victory this season over the Atlanta Braves, 3-0.

Making just his 16th major league start, Kuroda (5-6) retired the first 21 hitters he faced and appeared well on his way to the major league's first perfect game since 2004 until Mark Teixeira led off the top of the eighth inning with a double, ripping a 2-2 slider down the right field line on his 70th pitch.

"It was a slider and went a little bit higher than I wanted," Kuroda said. "My main concern was because he was the leadoff hitter, I didn't want to walk him. The most important thing was I didn't allow any runs. I was excited but it was short-lived because (with) no outs and somebody on second, I had to concentrate on the game."

After dealing with the loss of his perfect game and no-hit bids, Kuroda recovered just in time to keep the shutout going. After Teixeira moved to third on Brian McCann's deep fly ball for the first out of the inning, Kuroda stranded Teixeira when Kelly Johnson flew out to shallow left and Mark Kotsay grounded out.

The 33-year-old needed just 91 pitches to post his second career shutout, striking out six in the process. He faced just 28 batters, just one over the minimum.

"We don't want to have a perfect game thrown against us, but Kuroda was great tonight," Teixeira said. "(It was) probably the best pitching performance we've seen all year."

The righthander was bidding for the 18th perfect game in major league history and first since the Arizona Diamondbacks' Randy Johnson accomplished the feat on May 18, 2004.

Kuroda's bid for a perfect game nearly came to an end in the seventh, but he was helped by a great defensive play by rookie Blake DeWitt at third base.

Gregor Blanco tried to sneak a drag bunt down the line to open the inning to break up the perfect game, but DeWitt made a diving throw to outstretched first baseman James Loney to keep the run at perfection intact.

"They weren't trying to break up the no-hitter; they were trying to get runs on the board," said Dodgers manager Joe Torre regarding the bunt. "It was a great play by DeWitt."

Kuroda, who previously pitched 11 seasons for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp of the Japanese Central League before signing with the Dodgers as a free agent in December, likely benefited from an exhausted Atlanta team that was stretched to 17 innings in a 7-6 win on Sunday against Houston that lasted five hours, 35 minutes.

The game was extended even longer by a one-hour, 50-minute delay that turned Sunday's contest into an all-day affair. Even worse, the Braves' plane left later than scheduled Sunday night, keeping the team from reaching Los Angeles until 7 a.m. EDT Monday.

The Dodgers provided Kuroda will all the run support he needed in the fifth inning when Nomar Garciaparra followed a leadoff walk to Loney with a two-run home run off Jorge Campillo (3-4).

"I was glad I was able to get that," said Garciaparra, who was playing only his second game after returning from the disabled list. "I was thinking we have to get a run for (Kuroda).

"Their pitcher was doing a great job. We had to get a run somehow. We had a runner on first and I was thinking I could get him over to third. It went out for me and I was glad it got out."

DeWitt - who went 3-for-3 - got his second single of the game, was sacrificed to second by Kuroda and scored on Matt Kemp's single past a diving Johnson.

Campillo was strong as well, allowing only one hit through four innings - a bloop single into center field by DeWitt. The Braves' righthander lasted seven innings, allowing all three runs and five hits.