Baseball: Darvish denied rare perfect game

The Texas Rangers' Japanese hurler Yu Darvish came within one out of pitching a rare perfect game on Tuesday, retiring 26 batters before surrendering a ninth-inning single to Houston's Marwin Gonzalez.

Darvish struck out 14 in a 7-0 victory, but his bid for a slice of Major League Baseball history was foiled by Gonzalez, who smacked a single up the middle that rolled between the pitcher's legs.

Texas shortstop Elvis Andrus couldn't stop it and with Gonzalez on base Darvish was relieved by Michael Kirkman.

Ian Kinsler hit a two-run home run for Texas, who notched 12 hits.

Lance Berkman had two runs batted in while Nelson Cruz, Andrus and Mitch Moreland drove in a run each in Texas' first win of the fledgling season.

There have been just 23 perfect games -- a victory in which no opposing player reaches base -- in Major League Baseball history.

A record three of them came last season. The Chicago White Sox's Philip Humber accomplished the feat on April 21 of last year against Seattle while San Francisco's Matt Cain pitched a perfect game against Houston on June 13. Felix Hernandez meanwhile tossed a perfect game for the Seattle Mariners against Tampa Bay on August 15.

bb/vlk