MLB News and Notes September 9

MLB News and Notes September 9

Notes from Saturday's games
September 8, 2007

MINNESOTA: Joe Nathan has blown saves in his last two appearances. The last time he had back-to-back blown saves came Aug. 19 and 24 in 2004. ... Twins backup C Jose Morales, who had his contract purchased from Triple-A Rochester on Friday, sprained his left ankle in the fifth inning on Saturday after going 3-for-3 in his first major league plate appearances. ``Disappointing thing that happened to use today is losing our young catcher to an ankle sprain,'' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. ``First game in the big leagues gets three hits and then goes down.'' ... C Joe Mauer will catch LHP Johan Santana on Sunday. He hasn't started since Aug. 25 because of a hamstring injury.

CHICAGO: White Sox starter Jose Contreras was tagged for a career-high 13 hits, but avoided his 17th loss of the season. He is 2-9 with a 7.64 ERA in his last 12 starts. ``When you get behind, you're going to get hit,'' said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, who was happy to get five-plus innings out of Contreras. ``I don't think it was his best game for him, but he kept battling.'' Contreras was trying to win three consecutive starts for the first time this season. ... C A.J. Pierzynski hit second career pinch-hit home run on Saturday. ... Despite being 20 1/2 games back in the AL Central, the White Sox have the second best record in the division at 30-25.


SEATTLE: 1B Richie Sexson was in the lineup for Saturday night's game against Detroit after missing seven games with a sore left hamstring. Manager John McLaren decided against using his as the DH because there is less chance his hamstring would tighten up if he's playing in the field and not sitting between at bats. ``We're just looking for somebody to get hot,'' said McLaren, whose team had lost 12 of its last 13. ``When Richie gets hot, he can carry us.''. ... McLaren also said he'll use closer J.J. Putz for an inning anytime in a game just to get him work, and keep him sharp.

DETROIT: The Tigers recalled the contracts of LHP Clay Rapada, and OF Brent Clevlen from Triple-A Toledo. In two games at Toledo, Rapada had an 11.57 earned run average. Clevlen hit .220 in 90 games with seven home runs and 36 RBI. ... Detroit manager Jim Leyland talked about OF Timo Perez, who has contributed a few big hits since being recalled from Toledo. ``He's a pretty good hitter,'' Leyland said. ``... I like his demeanor too. He watches the pitcher, he watches the game.''


BOSTON:
RHP Eric Gagne threw a side session Saturday, his second in three days. Gagne (sore shoulder) has not pitched since Aug. 26. ... C Doug Mirabelli received additional treatment on his strained hamstring Saturday. He left Thursday's game in the third inning; it was his first action since leaving the disabled list on Sept. 1. ... Boston's shutout of Baltimore on Friday night was its 13th of the season and eighth on the road, the most road shutouts in the majors since 2004 and the most in the AL since the Red Sox recorded nine in 2002. ... The Red Sox are assured of a winning record at Camden Yards for the ninth consecutive season. Entering Saturday night's game, Boston was 53-22 in Baltimore since 1999.

BALTIMORE: Orioles manager Dave Trembley met with pitcher Daniel Cabrera on Saturday, one day after the right-hander threw an inside fastball to Boston's Dustin Pedroia that nearly started a brawl. Trembley said he told Cabrera his actions were ``uncalled for, unprofessional, no need to do it.'' Told that Cabrera said the pitch slipped from his grasp, Trembley replied: ``The dog ate my homework, too.'' ... The Orioles will probably decide Sunday whether to shut down LHP Erik Bedard for the season. Bedard, who hasn't pitched since Aug. 26, has a strained muscle in his right side. ... Jon Leicester received his second major league start Saturday, the first with the Orioles. He started for the Chicago Cubs in 2005 against the New York Mets.


TORONTO: Manager John Gibbons is hopeful that 3B Troy Glaus' onfield performance will not be impacted by an SI.com report that the four-time All-Star received multiple shipments of nandrolone and testosterone between September 2003 and May 2004. ``I would think so,'' Gibbons said. ``I don't know that as a fact. Who knows how it will affect him. Hopefully it doesn't.'' Gibbons said he hasn't heard much talk about the situation in the Blue Jays clubhouse. ``Truthfully, haven't heard much said about it,'' Gibbons said. SI.com said its information dealt only with receipt of steroids and not use.

TAMPA BAY: The Devil Rays picked up manager Joe Maddon's two-year option for the 2008 and 2009 seasons. ... CF B.J. Upton took batting practice, but was a late scratch from the starting lineup with a sore left ankle. Upton hit a hard foul off the ankle in the ninth inning of Friday night's game. RF Delmon Young replaced Upton in center, while DH Jonny Gomes started in right.


NEW YORK: Wilson Betemit got a spot start at 1B and 1B-DH Jason Giambi got a day off. Giambi was batting .210 since coming off the DL on Aug. 7. ``He's been fine, probably not swinging the bat as well as he'd like to but physically he's been doing all right,'' manager Joe Torre said. ``We want to just try to keep everybody game ready, basically.'' ... OF Hideki Matsui began the game in a 1-for-20 slump. ... Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes-Barre's season ended Saturday in a first-round International League playoff series against Richmond in game they led 3-1 in the ninth inning. ``We have all of their relievers,'' Torre said. ... LHP Andy Pettitte reached 2,500 career innings when Mike Sweeney grounded out to second for the first out of the second. ... Torre said the team would call up RHPs Jeff Karstens, Matt DeSalvo and Ross Olendorf, LHP Sean Henn and OF Bronson Sardinha from Scranton on Sunday.

KANSAS CITY: Manager Buddy Bell had seven right-handed hitters against LHP Andy Pettitte, with fifth-place hitter Mark Teahen and ninth-place hitter Joey Gathright the exceptions. Gathright was batting .533 (8-for-15) against New York pitching. Bell said he wanted to give 3B Alex Gordon and slumping David DeJesus (4-for-26) a day off. ``Really this is the only day we could do it, the day I felt most comfortable doing it,'' he said. ... C John Buck, who did not start, was 1-for-20 against Yankees pitching. ... The Royals needed one win for 63 on the year, which would be their most since 2003. ... Season attendance was 1,398,140 after Friday's 3-2 loss to the Yankees, topping their season totals from each of the previous two seasons.


OAKLAND: RHP Rich Harden, on the disabled list since July 8 because of a strained shoulder, threw a 30-pitch, two-inning simulated game Saturday using fastballs and changeups. ``It went well,'' he said. Manager Bob Geren added: ``I saw it and heard it. It was a very positive session.'' There is no timetable for another simulated game or for Hardens return. ... There's talk in Oakland that the A's will be opening next season in Japan. Geren said he had heard the rumors about a Japan trip, but nothing official. ... A positive during a disappointing month of September has been Oakland's defense. Geren said, ``The guys weve gotten in (to replace injured players) have played real well,'' citing 3B Jack Hannahan and SS Donnie Murphy.

TEXAS: LHP C.J. Wilson was expected to be rested for Saturday night's and Sunday's games. Wilson, who's been the primary closer since the trade of Eric Gagne on July 31, has had several shaky recent outings with high pitch counts. Pitching coach Mark Connor said Wilson has had ``a lot more intense workload'' than in the past, placing more stress on his arm. ... The Rangers remain stuck in last place, but the starts for Texas' young pitchers are big as they try to impress for next year. RHP Edinson Volquez and LHP Kason Gabbard are among the young candidates for rotation spots in the spring. Volquez threw six innings of two-hit shutout ball in Friday night's win over Oakland. ``To those guys, every start is like the World Series,'' Connor said. ...Manager Ron Washington is trying to take some of the pressure off 1B-C Jarrod Saltalamacchia by batting him low in the order. Washington has the feeling that Saltalamacchia has been trying to justify the trade that sent slugger Mark Teixeira to Atlanta. ``When he first got here, he was trying to live up to being in the trade for Tex,'' Washington said. ``The kid is carrying a heavy load. We're just trying to keep him relaxed. We don't want him to feel like he has to be an RBI machine.''


CLEVELAND: RHP Paul Byrd is writing what he calls a ``spiritual journal'' that he is going to have published in book form and hopes to have on the market by spring training. It's called ``The Free Byrd Project,'' a candid and graphic look at how he has managed to remain true to his faith despite the pitfalls associated with a ballplayer's daily lifestyle. ``It's not politically correct. It's not for a 10-year-old. It's not a bubble gum-feel good book. It's only for a certain audience,'' Byrd said. ``It's more of a personal account of things I've struggled with - conversations I've had with Atheist ballplayers, coming clean with some issues I've had, like struggling with pornography on road trips when you're missing your wife - all those things you encounter because of this lifestyle. So it's not a book that shows me as having it all together. But it's not going to point fingers or sell anybody out. If anything, it's going to just be me selling myself out a little bit with some of my struggles.''

LOS ANGELES: All-Star RF Vladimir Guerrero, who missed his third straight game because of tendinitis in his right triceps, underwent a CT scan on Saturday. It revealed a posterior impingement in his right elbow, which was causing tendinitis in the triceps. He is listed as day-to-day. ... The game-tying home run RHP Francisco Rodriguez gave up to Cleveland's Ryan Garko in the ninth inning Friday night marked the third straight outing in which the Angels' closer has given up a run. He has given up 10 earned runs over 15 innings in 14 appearances since July 25, blowing four save chances during that stretch. But pitching coach Mike Butcher isn't concerned about the two-time All-Star losing his confidence after blowing saves in two of his previous three outings. ``Absolutely not. This guy will never lose confidence,'' Butcher said. ``His delivery is pretty close to what it's been the last few years, really. I've looked at some video and we're trying to work on some things, but overall just try to get him into a little bit better rhythm.''


HOUSTON: The Astros (62-80) fell to a season-worst 18 games under .500. It's their worst mark since they finished the 2000 season 70-92. They are 4-7 under interim manager Cecil Cooper. ... The club had homered in nine straight games before Saturday's 3-1 loss to the Mets. ... CF Hunter Pence needs just one extra-base hit to set the club's rookie record. He is tied with Lance Berkman (2000) and Luis Gonzalez (1991) with 50.

NEW YORK:
Manager Willie Randolph said RHP Orlando Hernandez (sore right foot) probably will start Tuesday against Atlanta, but that could change if he has any setbacks. ... Shawn Green started at 1B Saturday with slugger Carlos Delgado out for a while because of a strained right hip flexor. ... LHP Tom Glavine made his 30th start of the season, reaching the mark for the 12th straight year and 17th overall. Warren Spahn (18) and Steve Carlton (17) are the only other lefties with as many 30-start seasons, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. ... RHP Pedro Martinez is scheduled to make his first start at Shea Stadium since he had shoulder surgery in October when the Mets play the Astros on Sunday.


LOS ANGELES: 1B Nomar Garciaparra was originally going to start but manager Grady Little said he changed his mind and wanted to keep James Loney, who hit two home runs on Friday night, in the lineup. ``It's good for (Garciaparra) with the day game after a night game,'' Little said. ``We don't want to push him. He was a little anxious to make things happen when he got into the box. I'm sure he'll get it going.'' ... There's been some talk of RHP Takashi Saito competing with RHP Brad Penny for the Cy Young Award. ``There's some stiff competition,'' Little said. ``But what separates (Saito) is his knowledge of the hitters and of himself. He keeps a notebook on every hitter he faces and he knows what he's got them out on and what they have hit. That notebook is something I can't read. It's something my 4-year-old grandson would draw on a piece of paper.'' ... OF Juan Pierre's bunt single in the first gave the CF a 10-game hitting streak. He has hit in 25 of his last 26 contests.

SAN FRANCISCO: RHP Dan Giese relieved starter Barry Zito in the seventh to make his major league debut, then pitched two perfect innings. ... RHP Randy Messenger threw a side session of about 35 pitches and is scheduled to be activated from the disabled list Monday. ``It went real well,'' Messenger said. ``Everything's good.'' He went on the DL on Aug. 16 with a broken bone in his left hand, then had surgery Aug. 22 to insert a screw into the hand. He is still being cautious with his non-throwing hand when he catches the ball, trying to use two hands. ``I don't want to push it too hard,'' he said. ... Before the game, the Giants honored their lone Cy Young award winner, LHP Mike McCormick, who earned the 1967 NL honor with a 22-10 record and 2.85 ERA. ... The Giants drew 42,228 fans for their 39th sellout.


FLORIDA: The Marlins still lead the season series against the Phillies, 9-8, with Sunday's game remaining. Florida hasn't taken the yearly mark against Philadelphia since 2004. ... SS Hanley Ramirez's first-inning home run gave the Marlins 179 for the season, just three shy of last year's team record. Ramirez is second in the National League with 184 hits. ... OF Jeremy Hermida is batting .366 (30-for-82) in his last 21 games and .341 (58-for-170) since the all-star break. Hermida went 2-for-4 Saturday with a double. Sunday starting pitcher Dontrelle Willis is 8-6 with a 3.93 ERA in 20 lifetime starts against the Phillies.

PHILADELPHIA: LHP Cole Hamels threw 45 tosses in the outfield before the game. Hamels (14-5, 3.50), who has been sidelined since Aug. 16 with a strained left elbow, is also scheduled to throw before Sunday's game. Hamels hopes to return to the rotation within two weeks. ... OF Shane Victorino made his first start in 15 days and only his third since suffering a right calf injury in Chicago on July 30. Despite the missed time, Victorino is still fifth in the NL with 35 stolen bases. ... The Phillies are 39-26 with INF Greg Dobbs in the lineup. Dobbs went 2-for-3 Saturday, with a home run and a triple. ... Saturday's starter, RHP John Ennis, is one of 10 rookies to pitch for the Phillies this season. Ennis picked up his first major-league hit, a swinging-bunt single off Rick VandenHurk in the fourth inning.


WASHINGTON: Manager Manny Acta said he didn't talk to the team about the five errors made in Friday night's 7-1 loss. ``It's over. What am I going to bring that up. It's the past. The next day you show up, you play right. You really don't want to be dragging stuff to the next day.'' ... SS Felipe Lopez made an error in the first inning, helping Atlanta scored two unearned runs. ... RHP Saul Rivera has faced 309 batters since allowing his only homer of the season, April 24 at Philadelphia to Aaron Rowand. ... Bench coach Pat Corales, who spent the previous 17 seasons as a coach with the Braves, was ejected from the game in the fifth when he protested a no-swing call on a two-strike pitch to Mark Teixeira.

ATLANTA: SS Edgar Renteria came off the disabled list before Friday night's game, but didn't play. He started Saturday night. Renteria sprained his right ankle while trying to field a hard-hit grounder on Aug. 2. He returned for one at-bat at Cincinnati but aggravated the injury and went back on the DL. ``I'm ready. Why not play?'' said Renteria, who was hitting .336, four points shy of NL leader Chase Utley entering the game. ... OF Andruw Jones has more career home runs (47) against the Nationals franchise than any other club. ... Arizona signed veteran reliever Bob Wickman on Friday. The 38-year-old right-hander was released by the Braves last month. He was 3-3 with a 3.92 ERA in 49 appearances and had 20 saves in 26 appearances. ... Prior to the game, RHP John Smoltz presented a signed banner by all the Braves to the Warner Robins, Ga., team that recently won the Little League World Series.


CUBS: RHP Steve Trachsel, who starts Sunday, is 5-8 in his career against Pittsburgh, mostly with the Mets. ... The Cubs haven't owned or shared the NL Central lead this late in a season since winning the division in 2003. ... Ted Lilly (14-7) will start Monday's makeup game against St. Louis in Wrigley Field, opposing Joel Pineiro (4-2). ... Cubs hitting coach Gerald Perry had the same job under former Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon from 2003-05. ... The Cubs have won only four of their 23 series in which they have lost their first game.

PIRATES:
OF-C Ryan Doumit (sprained left wrist) was activated off the disabled list for Saturday night's game against Chicago. ... LHP Zach Duke threw a bullpen session and may be moved onto the active roster Tuesday. He has been sidelined with elbow irritation since late June. ... RHP Bryan Bullington, the No. 1 pick in the 2002 draft, will start Tuesday night against Milwaukee despite allowing five runs in three innings Thursday against St. Louis. ... LHP Paul Maholm (lower back discomfort) did some light throwing, but his return remains uncertain. He hasn't started since Aug. 28. ... LHP Damaso Marte is bothered by flu-like symptoms.


MILWAUKEE: One bright spot manager Ned Yost took from Friday's 11-4 loss to Cincinnati was the combined three innings of hitless, scoreless relief turned in by RHP Matt Wise and LHP Mitch Stetter. ``That's two more guys we can put in the mix down there,'' Yost said. ... SS J.J. Hardy, who was hitless in his last 12 at bats, got the day off Saturday night. Hardy had 23 home runs going into Saturdayy's game, nine more than the combined 14 he'd hit in his previous two season, but he hadn't hit one since Aug. 19 against Saturday's Reds starter, RHP Aaron Harang. ... C Damian Miller, 6-for-15 in his career against Harang, made his 41st start in Milwaukee's 141st game Saturday. Regular catcher Johnny Estrada was 0-for-4 in his career against Harang.

CINCINNATI: OF Josh Hamilton's hamstrings weren't tight enough to keep him out of the lineup Friday, but manager Pete Mackanin was more cautious Saturday, giving the rookie the night off. ``With a ceiling as high as he's got, over the last three weeks, we're going to be very cautious,'' Mackanin said. Hamilton had four hits, including a homer and a double Friday. ... 3B Edwin Encarnacion was 8-for-15 with runners in scoring position after a two-run single Friday. ``I'm just trying to stay aggressive in the strike zone,'' Encarnacion said. ... INF Pedro Lopez, who's been sidelined since July 25 with a fractured cheekbone after being hit in the face by a pitch from Matt Wise, took infield Friday and batting practice Saturday.

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SAN DIEGO: Manager Bud Black said there's no timetable for the return of OF Milton Bradley. He strained his right oblique muscle Friday night after fouling off a pitch. ``I'd say he's doubtful for (Sunday),'' Black said. ``You don't know how bad it is until he starts moving around. We're keeping our fingers crossed.'' ... The Padres expect to activate 2B Marcus Giles from the disabled list on Sunday. He's been out since Aug. 25 with a left knee sprain. ... OF Scott Hairston was activated Saturday from the 15-day disabled list. He's been out since Aug. 10 with a strained left oblique muscle. ... INF Brian Myrow had his first major league RBI on Friday with a pinch-hit double in the fourth inning.

COLORADO: The Rockies became the first team in major-league history Friday night to use 10 pitchers in a nine-inning game and still win. ``It's not the way we drew it up before the game,'' manager Clint Hurdle said of the 10-4 victory. ``It worked out in our favor, piecing it together.'' ... 2B Kaz Matsui stole his 30th base Friday. He had 30 total steals in his career entering this season. ... RHP Taylor Buchholz threw to hitters on the side Saturday. He's day-to-day with inflammation of his right elbow. ``I think he'll be in play come Monday,'' Hurdle said.


ST. LOUIS: The Cardinals' final home game Sept. 23 against Houston has been moved to a night game to accommodate ESPN. ... Cardinals pitchers have posted a 3.38 ERA in their 30 games since Aug. 6, best during that span in the NL. ... RHP Brad Thompson is slated to start Sunday.

ARIZONA: The season is over for second baseman Orlando Hudson. Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin said Hudson would have season-ending surgery Monday to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb. Hudson injured the thumb Tuesday sliding head first into third base. Hudson is hitting .294 with 69 runs scored in 139 games. Melvin said Hudson's recovery should take six to eight weeks. ... LHP Doug Davis (13-11, 3.98) is scheduled to start the series finale Sunday. ... Reliever Edgar Gonzalez (7-2, 5.00) was tabbed by Melvin to start Tuesday in San Francisco.

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Diamondbacks' Orlando Hudson shut down, will have thumb surgery
September 8, 2007

PHOENIX (AP)-Diamondbacks All-Star second baseman Orlando Hudson will have season-ending surgery on Monday to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb.

Hudson injured the thumb while sliding head first into third base Tuesday night. He played with the injury Wednesday, but left the game in the seventh inning and has been out since.

``It's not an injury you can play with,'' manager Bob Melvin said. ``It's the right thing to do. We hoped it would get better but it really needs surgery. It's the type of thing you want to do right away.''

Hudson has played in 139 games, hitting .294 with 10 homers, 28 doubles and 63 RBIs, which is second-most on the team.

Melvin said Alberto Callaspo will fill in most of the time for Hudson once his sore hamstring is better. Until then, Augie Ojeda will play second base.

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Padres activate OF Hairston from disabled list
September 8, 2007

DENVER (AP) -The San Diego Padres activated outfielder Scott Hairston from the 15-day disabled list on Saturday.

Hairston has been out since Aug. 10 with a strained left oblique muscle. Manager Bud Black said that Hairston will be available as a pinch hitter or runner Saturday night.

However, he may not start until later in the week.

``It's all about having the mental confidence to go along with the physical,'' Black said.

Hairston is hitting .400 with three home runs for the Padres since being acquired from Arizona for minor league pitcher Leo Rosales on July 27.

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Orioles' Bedard done for season
September 9th, 2007

Baltimore, MD (Sports Network) - The Baltimore Orioles placed pitcher Erik Bedard on the 60-day disabled list Sunday with a strained right oblique muscle, ending the ace's season.

Bedard has been sidelined since his last start, August 26 versus Minnesota, when he set the club record for strikeouts in a season with 221. The left- hander is 13-5 this season, leads the majors in strikeouts, and is fourth in the American League with a 3.16 earned run average.

The Orioles also announced that they have purchased the minor league contract of veteran pitcher Victor Zambrano from the Pittsburgh Pirates for cash considerations, and selected his contract from Triple-A Norfolk.

Zambrano is 45-43 with a 4.55 ERA in 182 major league games with Tampa Bay, the New York Mets and Toronto.

The right-hander made Toronto's opening day roster this season and went 0-2 with a 10.97 ERA in 10 games before being placed on the 15-day disabled list on May 10 with a strained right forearm. He was released on July 9.

Zambrano then signed a minor league deal with Pittsburgh in August and was assigned to Triple-A Indianapolis, where he went 2-0 with a 2.70 ERA in five starts.

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Brewers activate Vargas
September 9th, 2007

Cincinnati, OH (Sports Network) - The Milwaukee Brewers have activated pitcher Claudio Vargas off the 15-day disabled list.

Vargas had been sidelined since August 25 with a strained lower back. He left an August 24 start against San Francisco in the first inning because of the problem.

The 29-year-old right-hander entered Sunday's action against Cincinnati with a record of 10-4 and a 5.13 earned run average in 25 games, including 23 starts, this season.

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Baseball Today - Sunday, Sept. 9
ASSOCIATED PRESS

SCOREBOARD

Sunday, Sept. 9

Cleveland at L.A. Angels (8:05 p.m. EDT). The under is 7-1 in the last 8 meetings between the Indians and Angels.

STARS

Saturday

-Alex Rodriguez, Yankees, hit two home runs in New York's 11-5 victory over Kansas City.

-B.J. Upton, Devil Rays, hit a pinch-hit, two-run homer in the ninth inning to give Tampa Bay a 5-4 win over Toronto.

-C.C. Sabathia, Indians, pitched his fourth complete game of the season to lead Cleveland to a 6-1 win over the Los Angeles Angels.

-Jeff Francoeur, Braves, drove in four runs to help Atlanta get past Washington 9-2.

-Rickie Weeks, Brewers, tripled in the go-ahead run in the ninth inning to propel Milwaukee over Cincinnati 4-3.

IN GOOD COMPANY

Alex Rodriguez homered in consecutive at-bats against rookie Brian Bannister to set a single-season record for a third baseman with 51 homers, helping the New York Yankees overpower Kansas City 11-5 Saturday. He became the first Yankees player to reach 50 homers in a season since Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle did it in 1961. A-Rod joined Babe Ruth, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa as the only players in history to hit 50 homers in three different seasons.

NO WALKS

Greg Maddux didn't walk a batter for the eighth straight start and scattered three hits over six innings to lead San Diego to a 3-1 win over Colorado on Saturday. Maddux hasn't issued a walk in 54 1-3 innings, facing 212 batters. The last base on balls he surrendered was to Houston pitcher Roy Oswalt in the second inning on July 28 at Houston. Maddux holds the NL record with 72 1-3 innings without a walk in 2001.

3-BAGGERS

Curtis Granderson led off the fourth inning of Detroit's 12-6 win over Seattle on Sunday with his league-leading 22nd triple, the most in a season since Cleveland's Dale Mitchell had 23 in 1949.

FADING

The Seattle Mariners fell to Detroit 12-6 on Saturday and have now lost 13 of 14 to fall five games back of the New York Yankees in the American League wild-card race.

FUTILITY

Washington made five errors - three of which lead to six unearned runs - in a 9-2 loss to Atlanta on Saturday. The Nationals also made five errors in Friday night's 7-1 loss to the Braves. After winning five in a row at home, the Nationals lost their second straight to the Braves and extended their road losing streak to eight.

SNAPPED

Carlos Zambrano pitched himself out of an extended slump with one of his best starts of the season, limiting the Pirates to two hits and a run over six-plus innings as the Chicago Cubs beat Pittsburgh 5-1 Saturday. Zambrano was 0-5 with an 8.29 ERA over six starts since last winning July 29. ... Baltimore ended a record 11-game home losing streak by beating Boston 11-5. The 11 consecutive home losses were the most for Baltimore since the franchise moved from St. Louis in 1954.

SPEAKING

''The bad side of this thing is when he does it so often you're surprised when he doesn't do it.'' - Yankees manager Joe Torre, on Alex Rodriguez hitting his 50th and 51st homers in an 11-5 win over Kansas City on Saturday. The 514th and 515th homers of Rodriguez's career came one day after he passed Ernie Banks and Eddie Mathews for 17th on the career list.

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