Elias Says ...

A daily glance inside the numbers from the world of sports:

" The Tigers' lead in the A.L. Central shrunk to four games after Saturday night's 8-5 loss to the Indians and the Twins' extra-inning win over the White Sox. Detroit still owns the best record in the majors (81-49) by one game over the Mets (79-49), despite having the worst mark in either league since Aug. 8 (5-13).

" Boston again failed to gain ground on the Yankees and fell another game behind the Twins in the wild-card race. It's the first time that the Red Sox have lost 10 times in a 13-game span since late in the 2001 season, when they dropped 10 of 13 from Aug. 30 to Sept. 20.

" Ervin Santana now qualifies as a full-fledged Yankee Killer. Saturday's victory was Santana's fourth in four career starts against New York, not to mention his victory in relief of Bartolo Colon that eliminated the Yankees in Game 5 of last year's ALDS.

Of course, for purposes of records, regular-season and postseason games are never merged; but even at 4-0, Santana is the first pitcher to defeat the Yankees in each of his first four regular-season appearances against them since Scott Sanderson did it with the Athletics and the Angels from 1990 to 1993. (In an odd twist, Sanderson pitched for the Yankees in 1991 and 1992 while that streak was in progress!)

" Alex Rodriguez is hitless in 10 at-bats against the Angels this weekend, going 0-for-5 in consecutive games for only the second time in the last nine seasons. He struck out four times in Friday's game and fanned three times on Saturday.

No major leaguer has experienced two such consecutive nine-inning games -- hitless in at least five at-bats in each with at least three strikeouts in each -- since Jim Edmonds did it in August 2000.

A-Rod has seen nothing but right-handed pitchers over the past two games, extending his hitless streak against them to 17 at-bats (with 12 strikeouts), one at-bat shy of the longest such streak of his career (0-for-18 vs. right-handers in June 2002).

" Gary Bennett had the walkoff hit in the Cardinals' 2-1 victory over the Cubs. Get a load of this: Going into Thursday's game at New York, Bennett was batting .195 (24-for-123); but over the last three games, he's 8-for-11.

That's actually not the first time this season that a major leaguer batting below .200 (in at least 100 at-bats) put together a three-game span in which he had at least eight hits and a three-game batting average above .700. Tampa Bay's Tomas Perez was struggling at .185 before a three-game 10-for-13 binge against the Angels and Yankees the last week in July.

But it's still a rare event. The other most recent cases: Jack Wilson did it last year, Andy Fox in 2000, and Bob Boone in 1988. The last Cardinals player to do it: Tommy Herr in 1986; he was batting .189 before a 10-for-14 spree in late June.

" Today's nomination for Upset Of The Year: The Royals defeated Roy Halladay and the Blue Jays, 2-0. It was the first time in 14 years that a team with the outright worst record in the majors defeated the pitcher who was the majors' outright leader in wins ("outright" meaning not tied for the lead). Halladay led the majors with 16 victories going into Saturday's game. The last time this happened was Aug. 30, 1992, when the Phillies (52-75) beat the Braves and Tom Glavine (19-4).

" The Braves jumped to a 4-0 first-inning lead against Pedro Astacio and coasted to a 10-1 win over the Nationals. Astacio now has a 5-17 career mark vs. Atlanta (including 1-5 in head-to-head starts against John Smoltz); his .227 winning percentage against the Braves is the lowest for any active pitcher vs. any opponent (with a minimum of 15 losses). Astacio's 17 losses to the Braves tie him with Steve Carlton and Don Sutton for the second most by any pitcher since the club relocated to Atlanta in 1966, one fewer than Joe Niekro.

" Chipper Jones' 20th home run of the season was the 38th of his career in one of John Smoltz's starts. The first came back on May 16, 1995.

That's an impressive gap of more than 11 years, but do you think they've got eight more years left in them? That's what Chipper and Smoltzie would need to tie the record of Eddie Murray and Dennis Martinez: Murray first homered in an El Presidente start on June 8, 1977 with the Orioles, and he last did it on June 28, 1996 with the Indians.

" Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado homered in the Mets' 11-5 win over the Phillies. It was the 10th time this season that both Carloses had connected in the same game, breaking the franchise record set by Darryl Strawberry and Howard Johnson in 1987, and equaled by Robin Ventura with both Mike Piazza and Edgardo Alfonzo in 1999.

" Ryan Howard's two-out grand slam off Oliver Perez -- on an 0-2 pitch, no less -- provided the Phillies with a short-lived 5-2 lead in the fifth inning on Saturday. It was the third bases-full homer in the majors this season in which the hitter came through with two out and an 0-2 count; Rod Barajas connected off Brad Halsey on May 25, and Nelson Cruz hit one off Kevin Gregg on August 16.

Howard, for the second time this season, has reached 10 homers and 30 runs batted in within a calendar month. He had 13 homers and knocked in 35 runs in May; he has 11 and 34 with five days left in August. Consider that Barry Bonds has had only two 10-and-30 months in his entire 21-year big-league career (11 and 32 in April 1996; 17 and 30 in May 2001). Mike Schmidt also did it only twice in his entire career (10 and 32 in June 1974; 13 and 32 in July 1979).

" Nick Markakis homered in his third big-league at-bat back on April 5, but little did we realize what kind of pace he'd be setting in late August. Markakis homered again on Saturday in the Orioles' 3-2 win over the Devil Rays; his fourth-inning blast off James Shields left him with seven home runs in a span of 35 at-bats since Aug. 16.

Earlier this season, Matt Kemp of the Dodgers had hit seven home runs in a span of 34 at-bats. But no other rookie had seven homers in so few at-bats since Russell Branyan had seven in a span of 28 at-bats in 2000.

" Edson Buddle snapped a scoreless tie with three goals in a span of 18 minutes in the second half to lead the Red Bulls to a 6-0 win over Real Salt Lake. The Red Bulls scored all six goals in a span of 32 minutes, the fastest six goals ever scored by one team in an MLS match. The previous record was 41 minutes by the Crew in a 6-2 win over the Fire in 2003.

The first of Buddle's goals snapped his scoreless streak of 754 minutes, the longest of his MLS career. It also snapped the Red Bulls' scoreless streak at 256 minutes, including shutouts in both of Bruce Arena's first two games with the team.

In fact, the Red Bulls played 233 minutes before scoring their first goal for Arena, exceeding by far the longest scoreless streak that D.C. United suffered in its three seasons under Arena (1996-1998). United's longest scoring drought during those three seasons was 188 minutes in September 1996.

Real Salt Lake played a man down for the final 81 minutes of Saturday's game. Bruce Arena's MLS teams have now outscored their opponents 18-2 when playing with a manpower advantage. That covers a total of 382 minutes, the equivalent of four-plus matches.

" Landon Donovan scored two goals in the Galaxy's 5-2 win over D.C. United. Donovan has scored six goals since July 1, when he returned to MLS from the World Cup; he and Jonathan Bornstein are second in the league during that time to Jeff Cunningham (seven).

PGA Tour
" Tiger Woods shocked us on Saturday: For just the second time in Woods' professional career, he bogeyed four consecutive holes during a round on the PGA Tour. During round three at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Woods dropped to 3 over for the day and 6 under for the tournament following his fourth consecutive bogey on the eighth hole.

The only other time that Woods bogeyed four straight as a professional was during the second round of The PGA Championship in 1996, his rookie season; he bogeyed five straight holes on his way to a share of 21st place.

" The Patriots romped to a 41-0 shutout win over the Redskins at Foxborough in what was the largest preseason margin of victory by any NFL team since the Seahawks blasted the Colts, 45-3, on Aug. 16, 1997 -- the year before Peyton Manning arrived in Indianapolis.

" Jerious Norwood, a third-round draft choice from Mississippi State, ran for 104 yards on nine carries in the Falcons' 20-6 preseason victory over the Titans in Nashville. It was the first individual 100-yard rushing game in the 2006 NFL preseason.