TUCSON, Ariz. -- Oakland starting pitcher Rich Harden laughed off a question about nearly throwing a no-hitter through five innings Friday against the Chicago White Sox.
The Athletics' right-hander allowed just a run-scoring single by Alexei Ramirez with two outs in the fifth inning during Oakland's 8-1 victory.
Harden struck out five and walked four in his five innings to improve his ERA to 5.73.
"(The no-hitter) doesn't matter," Harden said, smiling. "During the season, it is a different story. I felt better out there. I still need to work on some stuff and work on my location. Overall I felt better with my command. I am progressing."
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Harden, who has been limited with injuries the last three seasons, entered the start working on his mechanics.
"It was a typical day against Harden. He is one of the best pitchers in the league, at least against us," Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen said. "This guy has good stuff, and we did not swing the bat good today."
Chicago never had more than one runner on base until the fifth off Harden. Among those floundering were former teammate Nick Swisher, traded to Chicago during the offseason. Swisher flied out and popped out in two at-bats against Harden.
"It was fun. I'm sure you can see he was swinging hard and trying to hit it out," Harden said about facing the outfielder. "He was sitting fastball and I was throwing fastballs. It is always fun to match up against guys like that."
GIANTS 11, DIAMONDBACKS 6, at Scottsdale, Ariz. -- For one game at least, San Francisco found success with the very style of small ball and aggressive baserunning the club is counting on this season without home run king Barry Bonds.
And Bengie Molina is showing he is a reliable cleanup hitter in the slugger's old spot, sore quadriceps muscle and all. Molina drove in three runs -- off Arizona ace Brandon Webb -- with a pair of RBI singles and a sacrifice fly.
"I like the way our guys are swinging," manager Bruce Bochy said after San Francisco produced 16 hits. "These guys look good at a great time. ... It's important we start jelling."
SHORT HOPS -- Yankees first baseman Shelley Duncan and center fielder Melky Cabrera were suspended for three games and Tampa Bay outfielder Jonny Gomes was docked two games for a brawl that ensued Wednesday between the teams. ... Mark Buehrle was named the White Sox's opening day starter.