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Friday, May 26, 2006
Elias Says ...

By Elias Sports Bureau, Inc.
Special to ESPN Insider

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

• Dirk Nowitzki's all-around performance continues to amaze. In Game 2 of the conference finals, he had 30 points, 14 rebounds, six assists and shot 12-for-21 from the floor and 6-for-8 from the foul line.

Just a normal night? For Nowitzki, maybe, but you have to go back a bit over 12 years to find the last player to match those totals of points, rebounds and assists, and those field-goal and free-throw percentages, in an NBA playoff game. The last three times it happened, it was done by Charles Barkley each time -- with Philadelphia in 1986, and with Phoenix in both 1993 and 1994.

• The Hurricanes evened their conference final series with a 4-0 win at Buffalo, extending their streak of not having allowed a goal in the third period in any of their seven road games during the current playoffs.

That's the second-longest streak of its kind in NHL playoff history; Dallas did not allow a third-period goal in eight straight road playoff games in 1999.

• Eric Staal's power-play goal in the first period extended his streak to 14 consecutive games with at least one point, the longest streak in one year's NHL playoffs since Pavel Bure scored at least one point in 16 straight games for Vancouver in 1994.

• Jason Bay homered again on Friday night, giving him eight home runs and 18 RBI in the Pirates' last eight games. In so doing, he became just the third player in franchise history to hit eight homers over a span of eight games played by the Pirates.

Dale Long hit eight homers over eight games -- one in each -- back in 1956, and Ralph Kiner hit eight homers over an eight-game stretch in 1947. Amazingly, Kiner actually hit the eight homers over a span of four games (two on Sept. 10; one and three in a Sept. 11 doubleheader; and two on Sept. 12).

The major league record: Frank Howard hit 11 home runs over eight games played by his team, the Washington Senators, in 1968.

• Brandon Webb boosted his record to 8-0 and he won No. 8 with a flourish -- a 3-0 shutout at Cincinnati. Webb, who brought a 31-37 career won-lost record into this season, is just the second pitcher in the last 20 years to start a season by winning his first eight decisions, all as a starter, after having brought a sub-.500 record into that season.

The only other pitcher to do that over the last 20 years was Jon Garland, who started 8-0 with the White Sox last season after bringing a 46-51 mark into that season.

• Carlos Zambrano's no-hit bid was broken up by Wilson Betemit's pinch-hit double with two outs in the seventh inning, and the Braves went on to defeat the Cubs, 6-5.

It was the third time in the past four seasons that Zambrano had taken a potential no-hitter into the seventh inning. On Aug. 22, 2003, Arizona's Shea Hillenbrand ended Zambrano's bid with a two-out single in the eighth; and on Aug. 23, 2004, Milwaukee's Geoff Jenkins ruined the bid with a one-out double in the seventh.

The only other major-leaguer who, over the past four seasons, has taken three potential no-hitters into the seventh inning is Minnesota's Johan Santana.

• Friday was the 41st day this season on which both the Marlins and the Royals played -- and it was just the fourth of those days on which each team won.

• The Royals ended their 13-game losing streak by defeating the Yankees, 7-6, in New York. Kansas City thereby became only the fourth team in major-league history -- and the first in more than 50 years -- to snap a losing streak of 13 or more games by beating the Yankees in the Bronx.

The last team to do it: the St. Louis Browns, who ended a 14-game losing streak with a 3-1 win over Whitey Ford in 1953. (Previously, the Red Sox had ended losing streaks of 17 games in 1926 and 14 games in 1930 by beating the Yankees at the Babe's House.)

• Derek Jeter's 2,000th major-league hit wasn't his longest -- the fourth-inning squib traveled about 20 feet up the third-base line -- but it put him in the books as the youngest player to accumulate 2,000 hits for the Yankees. Jeter, at 31 years and 334 days, is 11 days younger than Lou Gehrig was when The Iron Horse reached the 2K mark on May 30, 1935.

Over the past 40 years, only four other major-leaguers have reached the 2,000-hit milestone before age 32: Al Kaline (in 1966), Vada Pinson (in 1969), Robin Yount (in 1986) and Roberto Alomar (in 1999). (For the curious, all-time hits king Pete Rose earned his 2,000th hit 66 days after his 32nd birthday in 1973.

• Mike Mussina allowed three earned runs in six innings on Friday, but was removed from the game by Joe Torre after the Yankees scored three runs in the last of the sixth to take a 4-3 lead. (Mussina had thrown 98 pitches, and had retired 13 of the last 14 hitters.)

But Torre's decision allowed Mussina to keep alive his streak of meeting the requirements of a "quality start" in each of his 11 starts this season. (Milwaukee's Chris Capuano kept alive an identical streak on Friday, allowing three earned runs in seven innings at Philadelphia.)

Mussina's streak is the longest by any American League pitcher to start a season since Pedro Martinez started that way three years in a row. He had 12 straight QSs to start the 1999 season, 13 straight to start 2000, and 12 straight to start 2001. In the Non-Pedro Division, no American Leaguer had started with 11 straight QSs since Seattle's Erik Hanson in 1993.

• Pedro Martinez struck out 10 or more batters for the 108th time in his major-league career on Friday, and for the 18th time, he coupled those double-digit strikeouts with no walks. But for just the second time, Pedro came up a loser despite a 10-strikeouts-no-walks game. The only other time that it happened: a 6-2 loss to the A's in 1999 despite 11 strikeouts and no walks.

• The best way to stop the first-place Mets? Put a rookie out there on the mound. Florida followed the formula on Friday, when 22-year-old Josh Johnson started against Pedro Martinez.

The result? The Marlins won, 5-1, pinning the first loss on Pedro this season. The four rookies who have started against the Mets this season -- San Francisco's Matt Cain, Washington's Michael O'Connor, Pittsburgh's Paul Maholm and Johnson -- have combined for a 3-1 record, while holding the Mets to five runs and 17 hits in 27 innings.

Actually, the Mets' proclivity to lose to rookie starters dates back to the franchise's birth. In 1962, the Mets actually lost two games to rookie starters (Ray Washburn and Bob Veale) before they won their first game against anybody!

• Alfonso Soriano hit his 17th home run of the season, and his 10th of May, in the Nationals' 10-4 victory over the Dodgers. He's the first ExpoNats player to have a 10-homer month since August 2003, when Vladimir Guerrero had the last of his six double-digit homer months with the Expos.