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Saturday, July 23, 2011
Twins, A's end long losing streaks


The Twins and Athletics entered the weekend looking to snap matching 11-game losing streaks against their opponents, the Tigers and Yankees. Those were the two longest active streaks for any major-league team against an opponent, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

And both emerged as winners on Saturday afternoon, with the A’s slipping past the Yankees, 4-3, and the Twins beating the Tigers, 4-1.

The Athletics losing streak vs the Yankees was their longest against the team since a 14-game streak from 1956-57. The Twins losing streak vs the Tigers was their longest against Detroit in the history of the franchise.

For the A’s, Josh Willingham and Hideki Matsui homered to lead the offense. It was Willingham’s first career homer versus the Yankees, and Matsui’s fourth against his former team.

The Twins were led by a strong pitching performance from Scott Baker, who tossed five scoreless innings in his first outing since coming off the disabled list. Baker shut down the Tigers’ left-handed bats, who were 1-for-12 with five strikeouts against him.

Joe Nathan came on for the ninth and notched his seventh save this season and 253rd in his career, which is one shy of the Twins record set by Rick Aguilera.

Around the diamond

• The Philadelphia Phillies beat the San Diego Padres 8-6, extending their win streak over them to nine games, which is now tied for the longest current win streak against an opponent in the majors.

Chase Utley hit two homers for his 19th multi-homer game, matching Rogers Hornsby for the fifth-most by a second baseman in the Live Ball Era (since 1920).

Chad Qualls entered the game in the seventh inning with a 4-3 lead and imploded, allowing five runs and three homers while getting just one out.

Qualls became the seventh reliever in the Live Ball Era to give up three-or-more homers and at least five runs while pitching one-third of an inning or fewer, and the first since Chris Spurling on July 18, 2005 vs. White Sox.

• The Chicago Cubs beat the Houston Astros 5-1, as Houston dropped to an MLB-worst 33-67. Prior to this week, the franchise hadn’t been 34 games under .500 since September 27, 1975, when they were 63-97 following 5-1 loss to the Dodgers.

The Cubs, who won the first two games of the series, will go for their first three-game win streak this season on Sunday. The last Cubs team to go this long into the season without a three-game win streak was the 1966 squad. They didn’t win three in a row until the 108th game, according to Elias.