Philadelphia's Halladay pitches perfect game

MIAMI (Reuters) - Philadelphia's Roy Halladay pitched a perfect game on Saturday, striking out 11 as the Phillies beat the Florida Marlins 1-0.

It was only the 20th perfect game pitched in Major League Baseball but comes just weeks after Oakland's Dallas Braden accomplished the feat against Tampa Bay on May 9.

The last time there were two perfect games in the same season was 1880.

"I think you're always aware, from the first inning on, but I don't think you're ever really thinking about throwing a no-hitter until probably the eighth or ninth," the 33-year-old Halladay told reporters.

"I think once you get there, you realize you're close, but you're still a long ways from it. I think once I got two outs in that ninth inning, I felt like I had a chance to make some pitches and get it."

Florida-based teams have now been the victims of the last three perfect games, with Mark Buehrle pitching a perfect game for the Chicago White Sox against Tampa Bay in July last year.

"We felt like we got into a groove early," Halladay (7-3) told reporters, adding that catcher Carlos Ruiz played a key role in the no-hitter.

"I can't say enough about the job he did today, he mixed pitches."

The Phillies' winning run came on an error by Marlins center-fielder Cameron Maybin that allowed Wilson Valdez to score from first base in the third inning.

It was far from plain sailing for Halladay, who threw 115 pitches over the nine innings.

In the sixth, shortstop Valdez cleanly fielded a chopper by the speedy Maybin to make the play at first base and in the seventh Halladay had to battle his way through a couple of three-ball counts.

Marlins starter Josh Johnson was the unlucky loser, allowing just the one unearned run while striking out six and walking one batter over seven innings.

Halladay's performance was in stark contrast to his previous start, his worst since joining Philadelphia, when he gave up seven runs on eight hits in just 5-2/3 innings against Boston

(Reporting by Mike Mouat in Windsor, Ontario; Editing by Peter Rutherford)