Braden's rare feat timed to perfection
OAKLAND (Reuters) - Oakland Athletics pitcher Dallas Braden tossed the 19th perfect game in Major League Baseball history on Sunday, completing a performance full of emotion by dedicating his feat to the two women that have shaped his life.
The Mother's Day 4-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays had added significance for the 26-year-old left-hander, who lost his own mother to cancer when he was in high school and was raised by his grandmother.
Braden lifted his arms and looked to the heavens after Rays right fielder Gabe Kapler ground out to wrap up the game in just over two hours as he became the second pitcher in less than a year to register one of baseball's rarest of feats.
"It hasn't been a joyous day for me in a while," Braden told reporters after retiring all 27 Tampa Bay batters in front of a stunned crowd that included his grandmother.
"But to be able to give (my grandmother) something like this on a day of this magnitude, considering everything we've been through together was perfect."
Braden, who improved to 4-2 for the season, struck out six batters and needed just 109 pitches to cement his name alongside an elite band of players.
"Pretty cool," added Braden, who was better known before the game for a recent war of words with New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez.
"I don't know what to think about it just yet. There's definitely a select group. I'd like to have a career more than today."
Braden's effort also handed Oakland their first perfect game in 42 years since Catfish Hunter's 4-0 mastery of Minnesota on May 8, 1968.
Mark Buehrle of the Chicago White Sox achieved the feat last July, also against the Rays, while Colorado Rockies pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez threw a no-hitter just last month.
(Editing by John O'Brien; To query or comment on this story email firstname.lastname@example.org)