Braden gives up hit in first, Angels beat A's 4-0


Joe Saunders pitched a four-hitter to outduel Dallas Braden, and the Los Angeles Angels beat the Oakland Athletics 4-0 on Friday night.

Braden, who pitched the 19th perfect game in major league history Sunday against Tampa Bay, matched zeros with Saunders for five innings before Kendry Morales hit an RBI single in the sixth and Hideki Matsui followed with a three-run homer.

Braden gave up a two-out double in the first by Bobby Abreu, ending his bid to join Johnny Vander Meer as the only major league pitchers to throw back-to-back no-hitters. Vander Meer accomplished the feat in June 1938 for the Cincinnati Reds against the Boston Braves and Brooklyn Dodgers.

Braden went the distance again for his second career complete game, but he couldn't match Saunders (2-5) in a game that lasted 2 hours, 5 minutes.

The Angels left-hander pitched his second shutout and third complete game in 103 big league starts. He struck out six, walked two and stranded three runners in scoring position after going 0-3 with an 8.31 ERA over his previous four starts.

Braden (4-3) gave up seven hits, struck out five and walked one. Abreu's hit ended a string of 29 consecutive batters retired by the left-hander -- tying the Oakland record set by Catfish Hunter, who pitched a perfect game in 1968 against Minnesota.

The Angels' next two hits were a bloop single by Matsui with one out in the fifth, followed by Juan Rivera's ground single in the hole that second baseman Adam Rosales smothered but couldn't make a play on. Erick Aybar led off the sixth with a bunt single and scored when Morales lined a first-pitch fastball to left field to break the scoreless tie.

Braden's 109-pitch masterpiece against the Tampa Bay Rays on Mother's Day was his first complete game in the big leagues and ended a streak of 52 starts without one -- one more than Todd Van Poppel's previous Oakland record for the longest drought to begin a career.

No pitcher has thrown a no-hitter and gotten through the fourth inning of his next start without allowing a hit since Oct. 2, 1986, when Houston's Mike Scott gave up a leadoff double in the seventh to San Francisco's Will Clark at Candlestick Park.

There have been 45 no-hitters and eight perfect games since then, and 25 of those pitchers gave up a hit in the first inning of their next start.

NOTES: In Hunter's first start after his perfect game, he gave up three home runs in the first inning at Minnesota -- including one by leadoff hitter Rod Carew during a five-run rally that included homers by Tony Oliva and Rich Rollins. But Hunter got the victory as the A's won the rematch 13-8. ... In Braden's outing prior to his perfect game, a 4-2 loss against Texas, he gave up back-to-back singles by Michael Young and Josh Hamilton before coming out.

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