Thursday, August 07, 2008
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Karstens nearly perfect as Bucs top Diamondbacks

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[August 07, 2008]  PHOENIX (AP) -- Jeff Karstens has given the Pittsburgh Pirates a perfect start. Almost a perfect game, too. The recently acquired right-hander set down his first 23 batters before Chris Young's two-out double in the eighth inning and finished with a two-hitter Wednesday in a 2-0 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Karstens (2-0) has tossed 15 scoreless innings -- against a pair of first-place teams -- since coming to Pittsburgh in a six-player trade July 26 that sent outfielder Xavier Nady and reliever Damaso Marte to the New York Yankees. This masterpiece followed a 3-0 victory Friday over the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.

"It's been a big change," Karstens said. "I was pitching well in Triple-A and I felt like I wasn't going to go anywhere."

The 25-year-old Karstens outpitched Randy Johnson, who tossed baseball's most recent perfect game in May 2004. Karstens also got his first two major league hits off the five-time Cy Young Award winner and scored on Doug Mientkiewicz's eighth-inning double.

"After I got that second hit, I was like, 'What's going on?'" Karstens said.

He was in complete command until Young's liner for a clean double down the left-field line. Karstens walked the leadoff batter in the ninth, then made a nice stab of pinch-hitter Tony Clark's comebacker to start a double play.


After a single by Stephen Drew, Mientkiewicz smothered Orlando Hudson's grounder to first before tossing to Karstens for the final out.

Freddy Sanchez homered off Johnson (9-8) in the fourth.

Making his 11th career start and 17th appearance, Karstens struck out four and went to a three-ball count only twice through the first eight innings. He threw 72 of his 113 pitches for strikes.

Just two weeks ago, he was toiling in the minors for the Yankees -- a team now desperate for pitching to help its injury-depleted rotation.

Karstens' 2007 season ended against Boston on April 28 when his right leg was broken by Julio Lugo's line drive. He was 6-4 with a 3.80 ERA at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this season before the trade.

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Johnson threw the most recent of baseball's 15 perfect games for Arizona at Atlanta on May 18, 2004. The Big Unit also was on the losing end of the only no-hitter at Chase Field -- by Jose Jimenez in a 1-0 victory for St. Louis in 1999.

Karstens was hit hard early in the game on drives to the wall by Hudson and Conor Jackson in the first, and Chad Tracy and Mark Reynolds in the fifth.

But the Pittsburgh newcomer was calmly in control after that.

Tracy flied out to center and Reynolds grounded out to third to start the eighth before Young laced a 1-1 pitch to left.


Johnson had his five-game winning streak snapped despite a strong outing. He allowed two runs and seven hits in 7 1-3 innings, striking out seven and walking none.

Notes: Karstens has a 5-5 major league record. ... No Pittsburgh pitcher has thrown a perfect game. ... Arizona manager Bob Melvin expects to send RF Justin Upton on a rehab assignment soon.

[Associated Press; By BOB BAUM]

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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