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Wednesday, June 7, 2006
Elias Says ...

By Elias Sports Bureau, Inc.
Special to ESPN Insider

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

• Carolina followed up on its exciting 5-4 win in the opening game of the Stanley Cup Finals with a 5-0 triumph over Edmonton in Game 2. Carolina is the first team to score five-or-more goals in a game twice in one Stanley Cup Finals series since 1995, when the Devils completed their four-game sweep of the Red Wings with 5-2 wins in Games 3 and 4.

The Hurricanes are the first team to score at least five goals in each of the first two games of a Stanley Cup finals since 1982, when the Islanders opened the series with a 6-5 overtime win in Game 1 and a 6-4 win in Game 2 against Vancouver.

Andrew Ladd's first-period goal gave the Hurricanes a lead they never relinquished in their Game 2 win over the Oilers. Moreover, Ladd, at the age of 20 years, 177 days, became the youngest player to score a goal in the Stanley Cup finals since Jaromir Jagr knocked home a pair for Pittsburgh in the 1992 Finals, when he was 20 years, 101 days and 20 years, 107 days.

Cam Ward

Meanwhile, Cam Ward became the first rookie goaltender to shut out an opponent in the Stanley Cup finals since Patrick Roy did it for the Canadiens 20 years ago. Prior to Roy, no rookie had done that since Boston's Don Simmons in 1957.

• Three goaltenders in two games? In the Stanley Cup finals? Tell the Oilers about it. After Ty Conklin relieved the injured Dwayne Roloson in the series opener, Jussi Markkanen was in the net to start Game 2. Just 60 minutes and one second into the series, Edmonton became the first team in 36 years to use three goaltenders in the Cup Finals; back in 1970, the Blues employed Glenn Hall, Jacques Plante and Ernie Wakely between the pipes.

Jered Weaver's third major-league game was much like the first two: a start, a win, and another game in which he allowed two-or-fewer runs in six-or-more innings.

Only one other pitcher over the past 25 years made his major-league debut with each of his first three games following that formula; that was Jason Jennings, who got off to that kind of a start with the Rockies in 2001. The only other American League pitcher who had a Weaver-like start to his career in the designated-hitter era -- now in its 34th year -- was a guy named Craig Chamberlain, who did it with the Royals in 1979. (Chamberlain started his career with three complete-game wins over the Tigers, Orioles and Red Sox, but won only one more game in a big-league career that ended a year later.)

• The Reds defeated the Cardinals, 7-4, and thereby tied the Cardinals for first place in the National League Central Division; just six days ago, through games of June 1, St. Louis held a division lead of five games.

The Reds entered the National League in 1890; the Cardinals, two years later. And even though there was a 25-year period (1969-93) when they played in different divisions, it's still remarkable that they haven't been involved, head-to-head, in very many close pennant races. Consider: there have been only two seasons in which the teams finished one-two, in the league or the division, separated by fewer than four games. In 1926, the Cardinals won their first pennant by a two-game margin over the Reds; and in 1964, the Cardinals won the flag on the season's final day by a one-game margin over the Reds and Phillies.

Brad Ausmus homered for the only run in the Astros' 1-0 victory over the Cubs -- the second time this season that a catcher had homered for the only run in a 1-0 game. (Paul Lo Duca did it in the Mets' 1-0 win at Atlanta on April 29.)

It was the second time in Ausmus' major-league career that he had provided the only run of a game with a round-tripper. Playing for the Tigers against the Red Sox, Ausmus homered in a 1-0 victory on April 22, 1999. (And for those of you fascinated by players who did something or other "in each league" -- and you know who you are -- Ausmus is only the second catcher to hit a home run for the game's only run in both the American League and the National League. Rick Dempsey did it with the Orioles and the Dodgers.)

• Astros rookie Chris Sampson beat Cubs rookie Sean Marshall in Houston's win, the first time in nearly five years that a matchup of major-league rookies has ended with a 1-0 score. The last time it happened was on Sept. 2, 2001, when Seattle's Joel Pineiro started against Baltimore's Rick Bauer, with Pineiro coming out on top.

Dontrelle Willis earned the victory in Florida's 8-1 win at San Francisco. That was the 49th victory of the left-hander's big-league career, matching the most by any pitcher in the Marlins' 14-year history. He tied the record of 49 held by A.J. Burnett, one more than Brad Penny.

Tom Glavine's streak of 27 consecutive starts lasting at least six innings ended as he lasted only 5 1/3 innings at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday night, allowing six earned runs; that had been the longest current streak in the majors. (That distinction now dissolves onto Brandon Webb, who has gone six strong in each of his last 26 starts.)

But the Mets had enough firepower to help Glavine become the majors' first nine-game winner as New York won, 9-7. It was the 284th victory of Glavine's career, but only the second in which he finished with a higher number under "earned runs" than under "innings pitched." Back on July 17, 1990, Glavine earned the 29th win of his career, 14-10 over Philadelphia, though he allowed seven earned runs in 6 1/3 innings. Rafael Furcal homered twice early in the game against Glavine, becoming just the second major leaguer this season to lead off the first inning with a home run and then connect again in the second inning. Marlins rookie Hanley Ramirez did it at Cincinnati on April 18.

No major league leadoff batter executed that kind of one-two punch in either of the last two seasons; Derek Jeter was the last guy to turn the trick, in August 2003. But this is weird: not only did Furcal do it once previously (May 28, 2003, while with the Braves), but two other players in the Dodgers' starting lineup on Wednesday -- Kenny Lofton (2000 with Cleveland) and Jose Cruz, Jr. (2001 with Toronto) -- also had similar games.

• The Brewers reached the 60-game mark by losing for the ninth time in their last 11 games, dropping a 6-5 decision to the Padres. Milwaukee has used 24 different pitchers this season, the most by any team in its first 60 games of a season in the 131-year history of the major leagues. (The old record: 23 by Cleveland two years ago.)

The Brewers lost on Wednesday when Adrian Gonzalez and Vinny Castilla hit consecutive homers off Matt Wise in the eighth inning. Milwaukee relievers have an ERA of 5.40 this season, the highest in the National League.