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Right-hander gives Dodgers series win with 128-pitch masterpiece

PHILADELPHIA -- Josh Beckett is not the superstitious sort. Any doubt in that arena was quashed throughout Sunday's game with the Phillies in Philadelphia, as he talked about the potential of a no-hitter from the sixth inning on with catcher Drew Butera and just about anyone else willing to talk.
He is, however, willing to collect souvenirs -- including the rubber from the Citizens Bank Park mound, which made its way through the clubhouse to a stunned veteran pitcher.
"Is that for me?" Beckett said to an attendant.
It is when you make history.
Beckett, who has one career one-hitter, entered elite territory, as he threw the first no-hitter of his career in a 6-0 win over the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on Sunday. He struck out six and walked only three. The last no-hitter for the Dodgers came on Sept. 17, 1996, in a 9-0 win at Colorado for Hideo Nomo. In that game, Nomo walked struck out eight and walked four on 110 pitches.
Beckett's masterpiece was the 24th in Dodgers franchise history, and the 11th since the franchise moved to Los Angeles in 1958.
"I'm really touched by that," said Beckett, who threw 80 strikes in his 128-pitch gem. "The Phillies showed what a class organization they are by getting that to me. I thought maybe they would send it to L.A. But to get it that quickly really meant something. I have a pretty big ranch, I'll figure out some place to put it."
Beckett, whose previous closest call to a no-hitter was 6 2/3 innings against Detroit when he was with Boston on June 3, 2009, struggled to find the plate early. His first three pitches of the afternoon were balls, but he was effectively wild, as he survived the first inning with just one walk on 24 pitches. A walk to Marlon Byrd opened the second inning, and then Beckett zoned in as he retired the next 23 batters before a walk to Jimmy Rollins in the ninth with two out.
"I didn't think about the no-hitter," said Beckett, who took a deep breath before No. 3 hitter Chase Utley. "I thought, 'Chase Utley is up next. I have to deal with him.'"
Beckett fell behind Utley 2-0 -- and then 3-1 -- but struck out the Phillies second baseman on the next two pitches, much to Utley's dismay. Utley felt strike two was a ball and actually started on his way down to first.
"That was a lot of fun," manager Don Mattingly said. "Josh has been throwing the ball good all year. For him to be able to do that today is nice, for everything he's been through with us -- the surgery last year, missing the whole season. Changing himself as a pitcher, using the breaking ball more and everything else -- it was fun to watch."
"Despite [the game being] against us, it was pretty cool to throw a no-hitter, but you never want to see it done against your team," said former Marlins teammate and friend A.J. Burnett, who fell to 3-4 with the Phillies this year. "He was strike one from the get-go."
Beckett, who had a rib removed a year ago to relieve pressure on his nerves due to thoracic outlet syndrome, benefited from the Dodgers striking quickly, as Dee Gordon led off the game with a single into right-center. Gordon stole second and then moved around to third on a flyout to center by Carl Crawford. After a lineout, Adrian Gonzalez drove the ball into right-center; the ball landed and then glanced off Byrd's glove, resulting in an RBI double and a 1-0 lead.
In the second, it took just one pitch to pad the lead, as third baseman Justin Turner hit a home run to dead center for a 2-0 advantage. The home run was just Turner's second of the season.
If anything, the second could have loomed as a wasted opportunity for the Dodgers, who got consecutive singles by Butera and Erisbel Arruebarrena along with a sacrifice by Beckett to put runners on second and third with one out. Instead, Gordon hit a ground ball to Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard, who came home with the throw to get Butera. Crawford lined out to left to end the threat.
In the sixth, the Dodgers added a third run, as Turner hit a one-out single into center. After a groundout moved him up a base, Arruebarrena -- playing in his third Major League game in place of Hanley Ramirez (injured right calf) -- singled Turner home for the rookie's first career RBI.
By the time the Dodgers pushed three more across the plate in the seventh, the game was all in Beckett's hands.
"I took a moment in the ninth while I was warming up," Beckett said. "It was what it was -- and if I threw one, great. If not, I have healthy kids and a healthy wife -- and that's the main goal."
In the end, the sign on the clubhouse wall summed it up the best, as the Dodgers prepared to head for the airport after a big series win: "Buses Together Whenever Beckett Is Ready To Leave."

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