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Saturday, September 23, 2006
Elias Says ...

By Elias Sports Bureau, Inc.
Special to ESPN Insider

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

MLB
• Tampa Bay's 8-0 victory over the Yankees on Saturday night marked the first time in 63 years that a team with the worst record in the major leagues shut out the team with the best record in the major leagues on May 1 or later by at least eight runs. On Aug. 14, 1943, the Giants blanked the Cardinals 8-0 under those conditions. (The Devil Rays entered play on Saturday tied with Kansas City for the worst record in the majors, while the Yankees owned the best record in the majors.)

 Carlos Zambrano
Zambrano
• On Saturday, for the fifth time in 2006, Carlos Zambrano hit a home run and earned a win for the Cubs. He's the first major league pitcher in 40 years to have at least five games of that type in one season. Earl Wilson did it five times in 1966; he pitched for both the Red Sox and Tigers that season. The last National League pitcher with five such games in one year was Don Drysdale for the 1965 Dodgers.

• The Tigers scored 10 runs in the first inning at Kansas City, as the Royals became only the second team in major league history -- and the first since Grover Cleveland was in the White House -- to allow 10 or more runs in the first inning twice in one season. Back in 1896, Louisville (then in the National League) allowed a 10-spot to Chicago on April 17 and did the same at Philadelphia on Aug. 19.

The Royals have now been involved in all three major league games this season in which a team has scored double-digit first-inning runs. They gave up 11 runs in the first in a 13-0 loss at Cleveland on Aug. 13; then 10 days later, they retaliated by scoring 10 in the first while hosting the Indians, but somehow went on to lose, 15-13.

 Curtis Granderson
Granderson
Curtis Granderson hit a home run and a triple in Saturday night's 10-run inning. In the last 20 years, only four other major league players produced the homer-triple exacta in one inning and two of them also did it for the Tigers: Tony Phillips (1991 Tigers), Steve Finley (1999 Diamondbacks), Brandon Inge (2004 Tigers) and Carl Crawford (2005 Devil Rays).

• Luke Scott hit a two-run home run in the third inning and then the winning three-run blast in the bottom of the ninth to give the Astros a 7-4 win over St. Louis. He's the first rookie to hit two home runs in one game -- including a walk-off shot -- since Toronto's Reed Johnson on June 15, 2003, against the Cubs. The last National League rookie to do that was Scott Rolen for the Phillies in September 1997.

• The Brewers have won the first three games of their series against San Francisco by scores of 9-4, 13-12 and 10-8. It's only the second time in the 38-year history of the franchise that they have won three straight games in one season and scored at least nine runs in each. The other instance came in April 1978, when Milwaukee began the season with four consecutive wins of that type.

 Vernon Wells
Wells
• Vernon Wells tripled in a run in Toronto's 5-3 win against Boston, giving Wells 19 RBI against the Red Sox this season -- the most for any player since Detroit's Tony Clark drove in 19 runs against Boston in 1997.

• The White Sox beat the Mariners 11-7 with Chicago's third, fourth and fifth slots in the batting order combining to go 6-for-12, with two home runs, seven runs scored and eight RBI. The heart of the White Sox order has produced a higher batting average, more home runs, more RBI and more runs scored than the 3-4-5 slots in the batting order for any other team in the major leagues this season.

• The Mets were down 4-0 but rallied to beat Washington 12-6. It was the eighth time this season that the Mets won a game in which they trailed by at least four runs, tying them with Kansas City (yes, the Royals!) for the most such comeback victories in the majors in 2006. The Mets had eight comeback wins of that kind (from at least four runs down) over the previous five seasons combined (2001-05).

Mets rookie pitcher John Maine earned the five-and-fly victory but it was the team's young hitters who led the offensive charge. David Wright, Jose Reyes and Lastings Milledge each had multi-hit and multi-RBI games. Only one other team in the majors this year had at least two hits and two RBI from three players -- all under age 24 -- in the same game: Milwaukee's Rickie Weeks, J.J. Hardy and Prince Fielder did that on April 29 in a 16-2 win at Wrigley Field.

Reyes' three RBI lifted his season total to 80, all from the top spot in the batting order. He barely trails Alfonso Soriano, who has driven in 81 runs while batting leadoff, the most in the majors this season. Prior to this season, the last National Leaguer to reach the 80-RBI mark from the top spot was Craig Biggio; he had 80 in 1997 and then 88 in 1998.

• The Angels lived for another day in the AL West race, with a 6-2 triumph at Oakland. John Lackey earned the victory, with seven innings of four-hit ball. Lackey has eight wins against the Athletics over the last four seasons. The only other pitcher with more than six is Kenny Rogers, who has beaten Oakland 10 times over that period.

 Chase Utley
Utley
• Shane Victorino and Chase Utley, hitting second and third, respectively, in the Phillies lineup, each had four hits and three runs scored in the team's 8-6 win against Florida. It's the first time this season in the major leagues that teammates -- hitting back-to-back in the batting order -- each had four or more hits and three or more runs scored in the same game. It happened once last year when three Red Sox did it in back-to-back-to-back fashion -- David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez and Trot Nixon in a 15-2 win over the Devil Rays.

Golf
• Eric Axley heads into Sunday's final round of the Valero Texas Open leading by four strokes. He is only the eighth rookie since 1980 to hold a lead of at least four shots heading into the final round of a PGA Tour event. Four of the previous seven went on to win the event. The last rookie to hold a lead this large heading into the final day of a Tour event was Todd Hamilton at the 2004 Honda Classic. Hamilton held on to win by one stroke.

Axley is the first player on Tour this season to record consecutive rounds of 63 or better in the same event.

Soccer
• Shaka Hislop made his MLS debut in FC Dallas' 2-1 victory over Real Salt Lake on Saturday night. Hislop, who starred for Trinidad & Tobago in the World Cup this summer, is the sixth goalkeeper to play in the World Cup and MLS. The others are Jorge Campos, Brad Friedel, Tony Meola, Thomas Ravelli and Walter Zenga.