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Dallas Braden gets Godzilla'd back to earth

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Hideki Matsui and the Los Angeles Angels brought Dallas Braden back to earth on Friday, the Japanese slugger crushing a three-run homer in a 4-0 win over the Oakland A's.

Braden had hurled just the 19th perfect game in Major League Baseball when he retired every batter in order in beating the Tampa Bay Rays 4-0 in his previous outing.

The Oakland lefty coaxed groundball outs from the first two Angels batters he faced Friday before Bobby Abreu stroked a double to left-center to end his string of perfection.

Braden then set down the next 11 batters he faced before Matsui singled in the fifth inning and was locked in a scoreless duel with Angels left-hander Joe Saunders until Los Angeles broke through in the sixth.

A two-out single to left, with men on first and second base, by Kendry Morales scored Erick Aybar for the game's first run and Matsui followed with a line shot over the wall in right for his fifth homer and a 4-0 lead.

"It was a breaking ball," Braden told reporters of the pitch to Matsui. "I felt like I almost told him it was coming. He Godzilla'd it right out of the ballpark."

It was the first homer since April for Matsui, who had been slumping with only six hits in his previous 58 at-bats.

"Overall, I feel better," Matsui said through a translator. "Little by little, I'm getting there."

Saunders, who yielded just four hits, improved to 2-5 with his first victory since April 17 at Toronto.

"Any athlete wants to compete against the best," Saunders said about rising to the challenge of facing a pitcher coming off a perfect game. "It brings out the best in you. If it doesn't, you shouldn't be playing sports."

Braden gave up seven hits and a walk as his record dipped to 4-3.

(Writing by Larry Fine in New York, Editing by Alastair Himmer)