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Saturday, May 20, 2006
Elias Says ...

By Elias Sports Bureau, Inc.
Special to ESPN Insider

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


Barry Bonds' 714th career home run came in his 30th at-bat since hitting No. 713, thirteen days ago at Philadelphia. Hank Aaron hit his 714th home run in 1974, in his sixth at-bat after hitting his 713th; back in 1935, Babe Ruth hit No. 714 in the at-bat after he hit No. 713.

Ruth led the major leagues or tied for the lead in home runs in 11 seasons. Bonds has led the majors only twice -- in 1993 (when he hit 46, tying Juan Gonzalez) and in 2001 (when he hit 73). Aaron led only once, with 44 homers in 1957.

 Albert Pujols

Alfonso Soriano and Ryan Howard both hit their eighth home runs of the month of May on Saturday, the highest total for any major leaguer this month. Yes, one more than Albert Pujols.

But Pujols hit his seventh of the month, and 21st of the season, in the Cardinals' 4-2 victory at Kansas City, and made some home run history in the process. By hitting No. 21 in the Cardinals' 43rd game, Pujols tied the major-league record for fewest team games needed to reach that total. In 1994, Ken Griffey Jr. hit his 21st in the Mariners' 43rd game (he finished with 40 homers in a season that was aborted after players went on strike Aug. 11); and en route to his total of 73 homers in 2001, Barry Bonds hit No. 21 in the Giants' 43rd game (also played on May 20).

• Ken Griffey Jr. belted the 15th grand slam of his career, but it wasn't enough as the Reds lost at Detroit, 7-6 in 10 innings.

Griffey's first grand slam came in 1991 off the Yankees' Lee Guetterman; his last one was July 28, 2000, off Montreal's Mike Johnson. Among the 11 players in big-league history who have connected for at least 15 grand slams, Griffey is the only one to have gone at least five years between slams.

• Mets fans' ownership of New York bragging rights -- after a Friday night comeback win over the Yankees in which their team not only routed Randy Johnson, but also produced a winning rally off Mariano Rivera, and not with bloops, but with a couple of deep blasts -- lasted about 18 hours. The Yankees turned the tables Saturday, trumping the Mets' dramatic win by shocking the Shea Stadium faithful with a four-run ninth-inning rally at the expense of Billy Wagner, who had struck out the side and earned the win the previous evening.

Wagner entered Saturday's game with the Yankees to start the ninth inning with the Mets leading 4-0. And while Wagner had already given up inherited leads in three games this season -- leads of one, two and three runs -- few in Shea Stadium thought it could happen with a four-run lead. But Wagner continued to fill up his blown-leads bingo card, as he was charged with all four of the Yankees' ninth-inning runs en route to the visitors' 5-4 win in 11 innings.

The last major leaguer, this early in a season, to have been charged with runs that wiped out leads of one, two, three and four runs after entering those games in the ninth inning or later was Rick Aguilera with the Cubs in 2000; he did all that by May 17 of that year, his last in the majors.

For the Mets, it was the 190th time in team history that, playing at home, they had taken a lead of four runs into the ninth inning, and the third time that they had lost such a game. They experienced similar losses to the Expos in September 1989 and to the Dodgers in April 2000.

• Elias Says Quiz: Over the past 10 full seasons in the major leagues, what is the frequency of a visiting team coming back to win after trailing by exactly four runs going to the ninth inning? Is it closer to (a) one victory for every 50 such games; (b) one victory for every 100 such games; or (c) one victory for every 150 such games? (Answer toward end of column.)

• Prior to scoring four runs in the ninth on Saturday, the Yankees had scored only three ninth-inning runs the entire season: one April 8 in a loss to the Angels in Anaheim, and two on Jorge Posada's game-winning home run against Texas on Tuesday.

 Josh Beckett

Josh Beckett's home run in the Red Sox's 8-4 victory at Philadelphia was the 10th hit by an American League pitcher in the 10 years of interleague play. Prior to Saturday's game, Boston pitchers had a total of just three RBI in interleague games (one by Derek Lowe in 2004; the others by Tim Wakefield and David Wells last year), the lowest for any AL team.

Rodrigo Lopez suffered his seventh straight loss -- a streak that has followed an Opening Day victory -- in the Orioles' 8-3 loss at Washington. That's the longest streak of losses following an Opening Day victory, with all the decisions coming as a starter, since 1980, when Seattle's Mike Parrott lost 14 straight decisions as a starter following his Opening Day win. (Parrott finished the season in the bullpen, and lost two games in relief, to finish at 1-16.)

Lopez's total of seven losses and his 8.07 ERA are both the highest among the 30 major-league pitchers who started the 2006 season openers for their respective teams.

• Things started out poorly and tailed off from there for the Brewers on Saturday night: Starting pitcher Ben Hendrickson faced six batters, giving up a walk, five hits and six runs, in the Twins' 16-10 victory at Milwaukee.

In one of those stranger-than-fiction revelations, the last major-league starting pitcher to allow six or more runs without retiring a batter prior to Ben Hendrickson was Mark Hendrickson! Pitching for Tampa Bay at Boston last July 20, Big Mark faced six batters, giving up two walks, four hits and six runs.

• It had been a little over a year since the last time a major-league team had won consecutive games with walk-off home runs. But the Devil Rays did it against the Marlins, with Aubrey Huff connecting Friday night and Russell Branyan doing the honors Saturday night.

The last back-to-back walkoff homers were hit by Boston's Kevin Millar and Jason Varitek, both against Oakland, last May 10-11.

• Answer to Elias Says Quiz: (c). Over the 10 seasons from 1996-2005, major-league road teams won only one of every 144 games in which they went to the ninth inning trailing by four runs.

• You can exhale a bit, Sabres fans. Buffalo's 3-2 win over the Hurricanes on Saturday in Raleigh, N.C., avoided the dredging up of negative history that would have followed a Sabres loss. Buffalo has won only one of 14 best-of-seven playoff series in which it dropped the opening game.

 Jay McKee

• Defenseman Jay McKee's goal at 13:40 of the third period proved to be the game-winner as the Sabres defeated the Hurricanes 3-2 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals. It was only the third goal in 46 career playoff games for McKee, but it was the second game-winning goal for the nine-year NHL veteran. In 2001, McKee scored the winner in overtime in Game 2 of Buffalo's series against Philadelphia.