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A's Harden nearly perfect

Rich Harden carried a perfect game into the eighth inning last night, finishing with a masterful two-hitter in the Athletics' 6-0 victory over the Texas Rangers in Oakland, Calif.

Harden (6-4) was five outs from the 18th perfect game in major league history when Alfonso Soriano hit a clean single to center. It was the closest a big league pitcher has come to a no-hitter this season. Harden was the first to make it through seven innings, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

The crowd gave him a warm standing ovation, and he quickly recovered. He allowed a two-out single to David Dellucci in the ninth before retiring Michael Young on a ground out to complete his first career shutout. Harden threw 61 of his 81 pitches for strikes in a game that lasted just 2 hours 11 minutes.

Eric Chavez homered and Scott Hatteberg doubled, singled, and scored twice in the A's fourth straight victory.

Orioles 5, Mariners 3 -- Rafael Palmeiro moved within one hit of 3,000, Daniel Cabrera (8-7) pitched a two-hitter through eight innings, and visiting Baltimore beat Seattle.

Jay Gibbons hit a two-run homer and Sal Fasano added a solo shot as the Orioles erased an early 3-0 deficit and pulled one game behind AL East-leading Boston.

Palmeiro recorded career hit No. 2,999 with a one-out single to right in the fourth. Palmeiro went 1 for 3 with a walk. He grounded out in the second and sixth and walked in the eighth.

Devil Rays 3, Blue Jays 0 -- Casey Fossum and Danys Baez combined on a six-hitter for Tampa Bay's first shutout of the season, over host Toronto.

Damon Hollins homered and Jorge Cantu had two RBIs for the Devil Rays, who have won just two of their last 13 games.

Angels 3, Twins 2 -- Steve Finley, Maicer Izturis, and Adam Kennedy each had two hits and an RBI to lead visiting Los Angeles over Minnesota, snapping the Angels' season-high four-game losing streak.

Bret Boone, acquired by Minnesota this week from Seattle, batted third and went 0 for 4.

White Sox 1, Indians 0 -- Jose Contreras (5-5) pitched three-hit ball for seven innings to lead Chicago past Kevin Millwood and host Cleveland.

Royals 12, Tigers 9 -- Matt Stairs hit two home runs, including a grand slam, and drove in six runs and Zack Greinke won for the first time since May 31, as visiting Kansas City routed Detroit.

Greinke (2-11) had lost five straight decisions.

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