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LeBron returns, and leads another win over 76ers
From Elias: LeBron James returned to action after sitting out three games, and who should be waiting for him but the 76ers, who had not beaten LeBron in their last 18 regular-season games against him. James made it 19 in a row over Philadelphia as he threw in 27 points to lead all scorers; his 19-game personal winning streak over the 76ers is his longest against any team in his 10-year NBA career. (It includes his last eight games against them while with Cleveland and all 11 games he has played against them while with Miami.)
Duncan putting up numbers the envy of younger men
From Elias: Tim Duncan, who will celebrate his 37th birthday later this month, scored 31 points and added 14 rebounds and four blocked shots in the Spurs' 99-97 win over the Hawks. It was the second game this season in which Duncan had scored 30-plus points, with at least 14 rebounds and at least four blocks; all other NBA players combined have produced only two such games (one by Dwight Howard and one by Al Horford). Only one other player as old as Duncan has produced such a game since 1973, when the league started keeping track of blocked shots: Artis Gilmore, also playing for the Spurs, had 33 points, 17 rebounds and five blocks against the Nuggets in a game on Dec. 28, 1985, some three months after his 37th birthday.
Wall scores 37 vs. Pacers, ranks third in NBA in scoring over last 14 days
From Elias: John Wall scored 37 points as the Wizards won their ninth consecutive home game, thumping the Pacers, 104-85. Wall has now averaged 28.9 points per game over the last two weeks, the third-highest average in the NBA over that stretch, trailing only LeBron James (30.2) and Carmelo Anthony (34.0).
Evans reaches 20 rebounds for 8th time this season
From Elias: Reggie Evans collected 20 rebounds in the Nets' 105-96 victory over the Bobcats, marking the eighth game this season in which he has produced that many rebounds. That's as many 20-rebound games as the combined total of the next two players on that list: Dwight Howard and Wilson Chandler have each produced four games of 20-plus rebounds.
Nuggets find the open man in comeback win
From Elias: The Nuggets spotted the Rockets an early 12-point lead-Houston scored 16 straight points at one point of the first quarter-but stormed back for a convincing 132-114 victory. Seven Denver players reached double-figures in points, and Andre Iguodala (14) and Andre Miller (12) racked up the assists. It was the first time this season that any NBA team has seen a pair of its players credited with at least a dozen assists in the same game. And it was the first time that the Nuggets had experienced such a thing in more than 24 years; back on Jan. 10, 1989, Michael Adams and Fat Lever each had 13 assists in a loss to the Washington Bullets.
A night the Uptons will remember forever
From Elias: It was bound to happen-though not necessarily in their first week as major-league teammates, and certainly not in the ninth inning, accounting for the tying and winning runs! But B.J. and Justin Upton hit game-tying and game-winning home runs in the ninth inning off Carlos Marmol as the Braves produced a memorable come-from-behind victory.
The Uptons became just the fourth pair of brothers to hit home runs as teammates in the same inning; Paul and Lloyd Waner did it twice, Hank and Tommy Aaron once, and Cal and Bill Ripken twice. Only one of the previous instances involved a walkoff homer: in 1962, the Milwaukee Braves trailed the Cardinals, 6-3, going to the last of the ninth inning. With one out, Tommie Aaron pinch-hit a solo homer and later in the inning, brother Hank belted a bases-loaded walkoff homer off Lindy McDaniel to earn the victory, 8-6.
The game-winner was Justin Upton's second home run of the game, and his fifth in the Braves' five games this season. Anyone remember the last major-leaguer to hit five home runs over his team's first five games of a season? That would be Detroit's Chris Shelton, who in 2006 actually poled out five homers over the Tigers' first four games of the season. (Shelton fell off quickly after his hot start, and actually was sent to the minors later that summer-a fate unlikely to befall either Upton brother!)
Cabrera, the Georgia Peach and Shoeless Joe
From Elias: Miguel Cabrera went 4-for-4 with a walk, scored two runs and drove in one, leading the Tigers to victory over the Yankees, 8-4. It was Cabrera's first game getting four-or-more hits against the Yankees, and it lifted his career regular-season batting average against them to .368 (56 for 152). Among all players in big-league history who have had at least 150 at-bats against the Bronx Bombers, only two had higher batting averages than does Cabrera: Ty Cobb (.373 over more than 1,600 at-bats) and Shoeless Joe Jackson (.370 over more than 700 at-bats).
Pujols hits 2 and gets purposely walked 3 times
From Elias: Albert Pujols had an interesting day at the plate in the Angels' victory over the Rangers on Saturday afternoon; it went like this: home run, intentional walk, intentional walk, home run, intentional walk. Pujols became only the third major leaguer since 1955, when the majors began recording intentional walks as a discrete category, to have a pair of homers and three intentional walks in the same game. That distinction, believe it or not, had previously been the exclusive property of the Mets: Claudell Washington had those totals in an 18-inning loss to the Padres in 1980 (in which Washington had nine plate appearances); and David Wright had the 2HR/3IBB line in a victory over the Yankees in 2007 (in which, as was the case with Pujols, those were his only plate appearances).
Another distinction for Harper
From Elias: Bryce Harper, who became the youngest player in major-league history to hit a pair of homers in his team's season opener, connected again at Cincinnati on Saturday, and the Nationals went on to win, 7-6, in 11 innings. Harper became the youngest major-league player (20 years, 172 days) ever to hit three homers within his team's first five games of one season, breaking the record set by Justin Upton (20 years, 224 days) back in 2008.
Rios homers off King Felix on 0-2 pitch
From Elias: Alex Rios belted a two-run homer off Felix Hernandez-on an 0-2 count, no less-giving the White Sox a lead that they never relinquished in their 4-3 victory. Over the past five seasons (2008-2012), Hernandez surrendered only one home run on an 0-2 count; that one was hit by Adrian Beltre back on Sept. 18, 2011.
Kershaw's 2nd straight scoreless start
From Elias: Clayton Kershaw followed up on his season-opening shutout-still the only complete game thrown in the majors this young season-by tossing scoreless ball over a seven-inning stint in the Dodgers' 1-0 win over the Pirates. The last Dodgers pitcher whose first two appearances of a season were both scoreless starts lasting seven-plus innings was Tommy John in 1974: a complete-game shutout vs. San Diego and an outing of eight scoreless innings at Atlanta. (Later that year, John achieved lasting fame by undergoing the ligament-replacement surgery that now bears his name.)
The champs learn who Shelby Miller is
From Elias: Shelby Miller, making his second major-league start and his first of this season, limited the Giants to two runs over 5 1/3 innings to earn credit for the Cardinals' 6-3 triumph in San Francisco. Only six other rookie starters have beaten the previous year's World Series winners in the champs' own home park within their first five games of the subsequent season. Only three have done it over the past half-century: Bob Shirley at Cincinnati in 1977, Kevin Tapani at Oakland in 1990 and Chris Michalak at Yankee Stadium in 2001.
Buck's fast start ties Mets record
From Elias: John Buck drove in four runs to lead the Mets to a 7-3 victory over the Marlins, the team for which he played the last two seasons. Buck now has nine RBIs in his five games this season, matching the Mets record for RBIs in a player's first five games with the team; Mike Jacobs had nine RBIs in his first five games with the Mets (they were also his first five games in the majors) in August 2005.
J. P. is in last place no longer
From Elias: J. P. Arencibia connected for a home run and a double to help the Blue Jays to a 5-0 decision over the Red Sox, and in the process, he escaped the distinction of owning the lowest batting average against the Red Sox among active major-leaguers (minimum: 100 at-bats). Arencibia came into Saturday's game at .135, but by game's end he had lifted his mark to .148, surpassing the .139 career-against-the-Red Sox batting average of Kelly Johnson. Arencibia now stands 110th on that list, with Johnson in 111th (and last) place.
Phillies' first 3-run walkoff double in 40 years
From Elias: Kevin Frandsen's three-run, walkoff double gave the Phillies a dramatic 4-3 win over the Royals on Saturday. Frandsen is the first Phillies player to have a three-RBI walkoff hit that wasn't a home run since Del Unser had a three-RBI double off against the Padres on Aug. 21, 1973.
O's suffer type of loss they rarely experienced last year
From Elias: The Twins defeated the Orioles on Saturday on Justin Morneau's ninth-inning RBI single, after the teams were tied, 5-5, entering the final frame. Last season, the Orioles went 14-2 (.875) in games that were tied through eight innings. That was the highest single-season winning percentage in major-league history among teams that played at least 15 games that were tied at the end of the eighth inning.
Crisp: 5 extra-base hits over last 2 games
From Elias: Coco Crisp went 2-for-5 with a home run and a double on Saturday, after he had gone 3-for-5 with two doubles and a homer on Friday night. It's the first time in Crisp's 12 seasons in the major leagues that he has had five extra-base hits over a two-game span.
Ovechkin scores 3 and leads Caps to win
From Elias: Alex Ovechkin scored three goals and assisted on a fourth as the Capitals jumped out to a 4-0 lead against the Panthers; they held on for a 4-3 win. Ovechkin's hat trick was his second of the season and the 12th of his eight-season NHL career. The only other player with at least a dozen hat tricks since Ovechkin made his NHL debut in October 2005 is the Hurricanes' Eric Staal (13).
King Henrik prevails on a busy night
From Elias: Henrik Lundqvist stopped 48 of the Hurricanes' 49 shots on goal in the Rangers' 3-1 win. Lundqvist's 48 saves were the most by a winning goaltender in an NHL game this year. Over the last 40 seasons the only other Rangers goaltenders to win a game while making that many saves were Glen Hanlon, who stopped 50 shots in a 3-2 victory against the North Stars on Jan. 27, 1985, and Mike Richter, who made 53 saves in a 6-1 win at New Jersey on Oct. 30, 1996.
Leafs win another squeaker
From Elias: The Maple Leafs' 2-1 victory over the Devils in Newark was Toronto's 10th win in 13 games decided by a one-goal margin this season (excluding shootout wins and losses). The Blackhawks (11) are the only other NHL team with as many non-shootout one-goal wins as the Leafs this year. Last season, Toronto won only 12 of its 29 non-shootout one-goal games.
Ryder seems to save his best for the Bruins
From Elias: Michael Ryder's goal in the first minute of the second period proved to be the game-winner for the Canadiens in their 2-1 victory over the Bruins. Ryder has scored six goals in his last seven games against the Bruins (dating back to January 2008) and three of them were game-winning goals (one for Dallas and two for Montreal).
Emery completes the circuit by beating Predators
From Elias: Blackhawks goaltender Ray Emery recorded his second shutout of the season with a 1-0 win at Nashville and with that victory put the last notch on his goal stick, so to speak. Entering play on Saturday, the Predators were the only one of the 30 current NHL teams that Emery had never beaten during his career. (He was 0-2-0 in four games against Nashville before Saturday.) Six other active goaltenders have posted wins against all 30 teams: Martin Biron, Ilya Bryzgalov, Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Nikolai Khabibulin, Jose Theodore and Tomas Vokoun.
Kane gets a goal and an assist in win over Flyers
From Elias: Evander Kane scored a goal and assisted on another to help the Jets end their five-game losing streak with a 4-1 win over the Flyers. Kane recorded three consecutive two-point games shortly after the lockout-delayed NHL season began (January 22-27), but Saturday marked only his third multi-point performance in the 35 games that he has played since then.
Quick excels on home ice
From Elias: Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick made 23 saves in his 4-1 home win over the Oilers. Quick has allowed fewer than two goals in only one of his 16 road starts this season (his road goals-against average is 3.08) but he has done so in six of his 12 starts on home ice this year (his L.A. GAA is 1.81 in 13 games, including one relief appearance).
Martin hits and scores in win over Lightning
From Elias: Islanders forward Matt Martin was the NHL leader in hits last season and he leads the league in that category again this season, so it's not surprising that he racked up twice as many hits (eight) as any other player on either team in the Isles' game against the Lightning. But Martin is hardly a prolific goal scorer, as a career total of 14 goals in 191 NHL games entering play on Saturday would indicate. So Martin scoring the game-winning goal in the Islanders' 4-2 victory over Tampa Bay was certainly unexpected. Over the last two seasons, the only other NHL player to score the winning goal in a game in which he was credited with at least eight hits was Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook on March 1 this year against Columbus.