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BULLS RACK UP 34 ASSISTS WHILE SCORING ONLY 93 POINTS
From Elias: The Bulls had 34 assists in their series-clinching 93-73 win against the Hawks on Thursday. That's the highest assist total ever by an NBA team in a playoff game in which they scored fewer than 95 points. The previous high was 32 by the Nets in a 92-86 first-round win over the Pacers on May 2, 2006.
BELTRAN BELTS THREE HOMERS IN A GAME FOR THE FIRST TIME
From Elias: Carlos Beltran recorded the first three-home run game of his career (and the first in the majors this season) in leading the Mets to a 9-5 win at Coors Field. All three of Beltran's home runs were two-run shots. He's only the second player in Mets history to hit three home runs with runners on base in one game, joining Dave Kingman, who did that at Dodger Stadium on June 4, 1976, with a pair of two-run homers and a three-run blast. Before Beltran, the last major-leaguer to slug three homers with men on base in one game was Florida's Cody Ross against the Mets on Sept. 11, 2006.
Beltran hit his first homer to dead center, the second to left field and the third to right field. Only one of the 12 major-league players to hit three home runs in a game last season hit one to all three fields: Adam Dunn on July 7 against the Padres in Washington.
JAMES SHIELDS SETS RAYS STANDARD
From Elias: James Shields, who pitched the Rays to victory in the rubber game of their three-game series in Cleveland on Thursday afternoon, has gone at least seven innings and allowed two or fewer runs in each of his last six starts. Shields is 4-0 with a 1.33 ERA over that stretch and Tampa Bay won all six games. He's the first pitcher in Rays history to throw seven or more innings and give up no more than two runs in each of six consecutive starts in one season. Before Shields, the only Tampa Bay pitchers to do that in five straight starts in one year were Julio Santana in 1998 and Victor Zambrano in 2003. No major-league pitcher other than Shields has had a streak of more than four consecutive starts like that this season.
JAIME GARCIA STAYS UNBEATEN WITH WIN OVER THE CUBS
From Elias: Jaime Garcia improved his record to 5-0 and lowered his ERA to 1.89 in eight starts this year with his win over the Cubs on Thursday afternoon. Garcia is the second pitcher in Cardinals history with at least five wins, no losses and an earned-run average below 2.00 in his first eight starts of a season. The first was Scott Terry in 1988 (7-0, 1.58 ERA), though Terry did not make his first start that year until August 11, after making 40 relief appearances.
THREE OF A KIND FOR THE CARDS
From Elias: Jon Jay, Colby Rasmus and Yadier Molina each banged out three hits for the Cardinals in their 9-1 win at Wrigley Field. It was the third time this year that three St. Louis players each recorded three hits or more in the same game. That also happened on April 12 at Arizona (Berkman 3, Pujols 3, Theriot 3) and April 15 at Los Angeles (Molina 4, Freese 3, Rasmus 3). The Cardinals had only three such games in the entire 2010 season.
MATT CAIN HANDLES THE SNAKES
From Elias: Matt Cain, who beat Arizona 3-2 on Thursday, is 4-0 in five starts against the Diamondbacks over the last two seasons, holding them to six runs and 21 hits while striking out 35 batters in 37 innings. Cain was 4-4 in 14 career starts versus Arizona through the end of the 2009 season.
THIRD THREE-HIT GAME FOR SCHIERHOLTZ
From Elias: Nate Schierholtz notched a double and two singles for the Giants in their win over the Diamondbacks. Schierholtz has started only ten games this season but he leads the Giants with three three-hit games this year.
ORIOLES WIN AGAIN AFTER TRAILING IN EXTRA INNINGS
From Elias: The Orioles scored two runs in the bottom of the 12th inning to beat the Mariners, after Seattle broke a 0-0 tie with a run in the top half of the inning. It was the second time in three days that the Orioles won a game in which they trailed in extra innings (they did it in the 13th inning against the Mariners on Tuesday) and their sixth such win over the last four seasons (one each in 2008 and 2009, two each in 2010 and 2011). Baltimore fans saw their team post only three such wins over a 19-season span from 1989 through 2007 .
HARDY'S HEARTY HITTING IN EXTRA INNINGS
From Elias: J.J. Hardy's two-run single in the 12th inning was the game-winning hit for the Orioles in their victory over the Mariners. Hardy also recorded two hits in extra innings in Baltimore's 13-inning win against Seattle on Tuesday. His .445 career batting average in extra innings (20 hits in 45 at-bats) is the second-highest among active players with at least 40 at-bats in the 10th inning or later, behind the .479 extra-inning average of his Baltimore teammate, Nick Markakis (23 for 48).
MARTIN PRADO NATS
From Elias: Braves leadoff batter Martin Prado hit a score-tying grand slam in the seventh inning against Washington's Sean Burnett on Thursday night. Prado was the first major-league player to homer with the bases loaded from the top slot in the batting order this season and the first Atlanta player to do that since Aug. 1, 1999, when Gerald Williams hit a slam against the Phillies.
BUTLER DELIVERS FOUR HITS
From Elias: Billy Butler had four hits in six at-bats for the Royals in their 11-5 win over the Yankees in New York. Butler was the first Kansas City player to record four hits in a game against the Yankees since Aug. 5, 2007, when Joe Gathright notched four hits at the old Yankee Stadium.
CLOSEST PLAYOFF SERIES IN NHL HISTORY?
From Elias: The Sharks-Red Wings series was the first playoff series in NHL history in which six games were decided by a one-goal margin. All seven games would have been one-goal games if it wasn't for Darren Helm's empty-net goal in Game 6 that made the final score Detroit 3, San Jose 1.
LOGAN COUTURE'S GOAL-SCORING STREAK
From Elias: Sharks rookie Logan Couture extended his goal-scoring streak to four games with a first-period tally in San Jose's Game 7 victory over Detroit. Since 1999, the only other NHL rookie to score goals in four consecutive team games in one playoff year was the Capitals' Nicklas Backstrom in 2008 .