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Pitcher Perfect

CHICAGO (AP) — The 105th pitch of Mark Buehrle’s day broke in toward Gabe Kapler, who turned on it and connected. Buehrle looked up and knew — his perfect game was in jeopardy.

Just in as a defensive replacement, Chicago White Sox center fielder DeWayne Wise sprinted toward the fence in left-center, a dozen strides. What happened next would be either a moment of baseball magic or the ninth-inning end of Buehrle’s bid for perfection against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Wise jumped and extended his right arm above the top of the 8-foot wall. The ball landed in his glove’s webbing but then popped out for a split second as he was caroming off the wall and stumbling on the warning track. Wise grabbed it with his bare left hand, fell to the ground and rolled. He bounced up, proudly displaying the ball for the crowd.

Magic. A home run turned into an out.

His biggest threat behind him, Buehrle coolly closed out the 18th perfect game in major league history, a 5-0 victory Thursday.

“I was hoping it was staying in there, give him enough room to catch it. I know the guys were doing everything they could to save the no-hitter, the perfect game, whatever it might be,” said Buehrle, who has now thrown two no-hitters in his career.

Wise knew the stakes.

“I was with the Braves in ’04 and I was there when Randy Johnson of the Diamondbacks pitched a perfect game. So I’ve been on both sides of it,” he said. “It was probably the best catch I’ve ever made because of the circumstances.

“It was kind of crazy, man, because when I jumped, the ball hit my glove at the same time I was hitting the wall. So I didn’t realize I had caught it until I fell down and the ball was coming out of my glove, so I reached out and grabbed it.”