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US State Dept hails Galarraga's sportsmanship

WASHINGTON (AP) — Call it baseball diplomacy.

Relations between the United States and Venezuela may be testy, but the State Department is lauding the gracious reaction of Venezuelan-born pitcher Armando Galarraga to an umpiring blunder that cost him a perfect game.

Spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters Friday that Detroit's Galarraga deserves credit for the "the display of grace and sportsmanship that he has given us in the wake of his 28-out perfect game."

Crowley's comments about Venezuela are generally criticisms of the country's leftist President Hugo Chavez.

On Wednesday, Galarraga was robbed of a perfect game when umpire Jim Joyce got the call wrong on what would have been the final out. He called Cleveland's Jason Donald safe at first base but replays later showed he missed the call. Joyce admitted he blew it, apologized to Galarraga in person and hugged him after the Tigers' 3-0 win.

Galarraga said he respected Joyce for apologizing and admitting his mistake.

"We certainly salute him and what he has done for the good of the game as a proud son of Venezuela and the Detroit Tigers," said Crowley.