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Sunday, September 3, 2006
Elias Says ...

By Elias Sports Bureau, Inc.
Special to ESPN Insider

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

Ryan Howard

• Ryan Howard hit his 50th, 51st and 52nd homers as the Phillies took the opener of their doubleheader against Atlanta on Sunday. Howard approached, equaled and then broke Ralph Kiner's major-league record for most home runs in a sophomore season. Kiner hit 51 homers as a second-year player for the 1947 Pirates.

The Braves kept Howard in the ballpark during their 11-inning victory in the nightcap. In major league history, there have been 36 instances of players hitting at least three home runs in the first of two games in a given day. But only five of them followed their performance with a home run in the second game: Earl Averill (1930 Indians), Bill Nicholson (1944 Cubs), Stan Musial (1954 Cardinals), Harmon Killebrew (1963 Twins) and Otto Velez (1980 Blue Jays). Musial is the only one among them with two homers in the nightcap.

Howard hit all three of his home runs off Tim Hudson on the same day that Albert Pujols hit three in a game, all off Ian Snell. The last three players to hit three homers in a game (Howard, Pujols, and Nick Markakis off Carlos Silva on Aug. 22) each hit all of their homers off one pitcher. The previous nine players with three-homer games each victimized at least two different hurlers.

Howard is the third player to hit at least three homers in a game to raise his season total to 50 or more. The others: Barry Bonds (from 60 to 63) and Sammy Sosa (55 to 58), both in 2001.

• The Nationals, who swept three games from the Diamondbacks this weekend, have won their last four games despite trailing by at least two runs in the eighth inning or later in each game. That's the longest winning streak of its kind in major-league history. No other National League team has ever won even three straight games in that fashion; a trio of AL teams won three in a row under those circumstances (1966 Orioles, 1971 Tigers and 1995 Indians).

Alex Rodriguez

• Alex Rodriguez hit a pair of home runs in the Yankees' 10-1 win over the Twins; it was his fourth two-homer game of the year and all four have been in home games. A-Rod became the first right-handed batter to have four multiple-homer games at Yankee Stadium in one season; the last player to do it, regardless of handedness, was lefty-hitting Matt Nokes in 1991.

• Jason Tyner raised his total of career at-bats to exactly 1,000, yet he's still looking for the first home run of his career. Tyner is the first player to go homerless in his first 1,000 major-league at-bats since Alex Cole, who hit his first big-league home run for the 1994 Twins, in his 1,317th at-bat.

Barry Bonds

• Barry Bonds is back. With his home run Sunday, Bonds is 10-for-16 with four homers, five walks and a hit-by-pitch over his last 22 plate appearances. But where is the production ahead of Barry? The bases have been empty each of the last nine times that Bonds has stepped to the plate (his longest such streak since 2003) and he hasn't seen a runner in scoring position in his last 19 plate appearances (his longest streak since 2000).

• Ichiro extended his streak of successful stolen-base attempts to 32, tying the single-season American League record, which he now shares with Willie Wilson (1980 Royals).

• The Astros' only hit in their 2-1 win over the Mets was Aubrey Huff's leadoff single in the second inning, and it didn't contribute to either of their runs. In its franchise history, Houston has won 11 games in which it had only two hits, but Sunday's victory was the first with fewer than two hits. No National League team had won a game in which it had fewer than two hits since 1997; four AL teams did it since then, including the White Sox earlier this season.

• The Red Sox's 6-1 loss to the Blue Jays at Fenway Park dropped their record to 2-5 in games that both Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz missed this season. Boston scored only 13 runs in those seven games, and the person who misses the Red Sox's dynamic duo the most is probably Mark Loretta; he's batting .080 in those games (2-for-25).

Todd Helton

• Todd Helton reached a milestone with his fourth-inning groundout at Dodger Stadium. It was the 5,000th at-bat of his career; Helton reached that mark with 1,666 hits under his belt. Stan Musial and Ted Williams both had more than 1,700 hits when they reached 5,000 career at-bats in 1951. Since then, the only player with as many hits as Helton through his first 5,000 at-bats in the majors is Wade Boggs (1,740).

• Akinori Otsuka notched his 30th save of the season for Texas. Otsuka has saved more than half of the Rangers' victories (51 percent, 30 of 59) since April 29, the date of his first save. Over that span, only Trevor Hoffman (53 percent, 33 of 62) and Bobby Jenks (52 percent, 33 of 64) have saved a higher percentage of their team's wins than has Otsuka.

• The Athletics scored nine first-inning runs en route to a 10-1 victory over the Orioles. Hayden Penn didn't escape the first frame, allowing eight runs in two-thirds of an inning in his first game of the season. No pitcher had allowed that many runs in the first inning of his season debut since April 15, 1926 (Tom Zachry of the St. Louis Browns in the club's second game of the year).

• The Marlins evened their record at 68-68 after being a season-low 20 games under .500 on May 21. Florida's 57-37 record since that date is the second-best in the NL, behind the Mets (58-34), and its 12-2 mark since Aug. 20 is the best in the majors.

Kelvim Escobar

• Kelvim Escobar earned the victory for the Angels on Sunday night, improving his unblemished career mark against the Tigers to 8-0. Only three other active pitchers have at least eight career victories against a team that's never beaten them. Randy Johnson is 12-0 against the Cubs, Jason Schmidt is 8-0 vs. the Marlins and David Weathers is 8-0 against his current team, the Reds.