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GONZALEZ: ANOTHER WIN AT YANKEE STADIUM; O'S: MAJORS' BEST IN AUGUST
From Elias: Rookie Miguel Gonzalez, who earned a victory at Yankee Stadium on July 30, tossed seven scoreless innings in the Bronx on Friday night, leading the Orioles to a 6-1 victory as the Birds moved to within two games of the first-place Bombers. Gonzalez became the first rookie starter to beat the Yankees twice on their own field within a span of 33 days since the Orioles' Tom Phoebus did it back on July 17 and August 16 of 1967. Phoebus and Gonzalez are also the only Orioles rookies to earn a pair of road wins over the Yankees in the same season since the Birds moved to Baltimore from St. Louis in 1954.
The Orioles finished August with an 18-9 record, giving them the highest winning percentage (.667) in the majors for the month. It's the first time in more than 15 years that the Orioles have produced the majors' highest winning percentage (or even tied for the highest) in any month in which every big-league team played at least 10 games. Their last month at the top of the heap? May of 1997, when they went 20-8 under Davey Johnson.
KRATZ STARS BOTH WAYS AS PHILS DOWN BRAVES
From Elias: Erik Kratz shook off a jarring home-plate collision in which he tagged out a barreling Chipper Jones, and later tied the game in the top of the ninth with a home run off Craig Kimbrel. Thus inspired, John Mayberry Jr. belted a three-run homer in the 10th and the Phillies won in Atlanta, 8-5. It was the first time that the Braves have lost a game in which they led going into the ninth inning since the final night of last season, when the Phillies scored off Kimbrel to tie it in the ninth and got the game-winner in the 13th, eliminating the Braves from postseason eligibility.
Kratz's homer, which came with a count of no balls and two strikes, marked not only the first time that any major-league player had homered off Kimbrel on an 0-2 pitch; but it was also the first homer that Kimbrel has ever allowed in the majors, in 174 at-bats, after he had gotten ahead in the count, 0-2.
3-HITS-OR-BUST BELTRE GETS 4 HITS IN RANGERS' WIN
From Elias: Adrian Beltre went 4-for-5, scored twice and drove in a run as the Rangers took a 5-3 decision in Cleveland. It was the fifth time in his last nine games that Beltre has produced at least three hits; but just as odd is that he has no hits in his four other games during that hot streak. So Beltre's game-by-game hits totals over his last nine games read like this: 3-3-4-0-0-3-0-0-4.
Only four other players in modern major-league history have had a nine-game sequence in which they had at least three hits in five-or-more games but had no hits in any other game during that span. Craig Biggio was the last to do that; in April 2006, he went 0-0-3-3-0-3-3-4-0. The only other American League player ever to do it was Hall-of-Famer Napoleon Lajoie, who while trying to catch Ty Cobb for the American League batting title, went 3-3-3-0-3-0-3-0-3 from September 23 to October 6 in 1910.
GONZALEZ'S 1ST SHUTOUT COMES IN 10-0 GAME
From Elias: Gio Gonzalez, in his 116th start, went the distance for his first major-league shutout, and he did it in a blowout, as the Nationals blanked the Cardinals, 10-0. Gonzalez became the fourth pitcher this season to toss his first big-league shutout at least 100 starts into his career; Kyle Kendrick got his first whitewash in his 104th start, Edinson Volquez in his 110th start, and Jason Hammel in his 128th start. Gonzalez also joined Tim Hudson, Scott Diamond and Matt Cain (in his perfect game against the Astros) as pitchers who have completed a shutout won by a double-digit margin this season.
CARDINALS: 2ND DEFENDING WORLD SERIES CHAMP TO SCORE 1 RUN IN 4 GAMES
From Elias: The Cardinals went down, 10-0, in Washington on Friday night, after they lost to the Nationals, 8-1, on Thursday. And remember that St. Louis was shut out, 9-0 and 5-0, in each of the last two games of its previous series, in Pittsburgh. The Cardinals last scored as few as one run over four games back in August of 1958, in a four-game series at Pittsburgh. And get this: only one defending World Series champion has ever been held to one run (or no runs) over a four-game span; Cincinnati did that in September of 1920, after the Reds had beaten the Black Sox in the infamous 1919 World Series.
KUBEL GREETS GUERRIER WITH PIVOTAL HR
From Elias: Jason Kubel blasted a home run leading off the 11th inning, which proved to be the winning run in the Diamondbacks' 4-3 victory over the Dodgers. It was the second extra-inning home run of Kubel's major-league career; he had a 12th-inning walk-off grand slam off Boston's Julian Tavarez back in 2006 - Kubel's fifth big-league home run.
Kubel was the first batter to face Dodgers reliever Matt Guerrier, who was making his first appearance in the majors since April 18, following a long stretch on the disabled list. Only two other pitchers over the last 10 years have allowed a home run to the first batter they faced after having last pitched in the majors earlier that season, but at least four months earlier: Detroit's Ryan Raburn homered off Toronto's David Purcey under those circumstances in 2009, and the Giants' Randy Winn similarly connected off Arizona's Oscar Villarreal in 2005.
A'S 20, RED SOX 2
From Elias: Josh Reddick's grand-slam home run highlighted the Athletics' 20-2 victory over the Red Sox, which represented the largest margin of victory for the A's since they defeated the Rangers, 23-2, on Sept. 30, 2000, and the largest margin of defeat for the Red Sox since they lost to the Yankees, 22-1, on June 19, 2000. The largest margin of defeat in Red Sox history, by the way, was a 27-3 loss at Cleveland in 1923, and the largest victory margin in Athletics history was a 24-2 victory by the Philadelphia Athletics over the Tigers in 1912, in a game in which the Tigers used a bunch of amateur players to replace the regular group of players, who went on strike in protest of the suspension of star outfielder Ty Cobb.
Reddick is the second player in two years to hit a grand-slam home run against the Red Sox the year after he played for them. Adrian Beltre did the same thing on April 2 of last year.
HERE COMES THE RUNNER, HERE COMES THE BALL... HE'S OUT!
From Elias: The Blue Jays defeated the Rays, 2-1, as Elliot Johnson was thrown out at the plate, his face left scraped and bloodied, trying to score the tying run on Carlos Pena's single. Johnson was cut down on a throw from right fielder Moises Sierra to Jeff Mathis - the first time in more than a year that a major-league game has ended with an outfielder throwing out the potential tying run at the plate. The last such game came on August 21 of last year, when Austin Jackson nailed Kosuke Fukudome at the dish in Detroit's 8-7 victory over Cleveland.
HEADLEY LEADS MAJORS IN AUGUST IN HOMERS & RBI
From Elias: Chase Headley had an RBI groundout early in the Padres' 5-4 victory over the Rockies in Denver, writing finish to the best month of his major-league career. Headley paced the Padres to a record of 18-10 in August, leading the majors with 10 home runs (tied with Giancarlo Stanton) and 31 RBI, becoming only the second player in the Padres' 44-year history to lead the majors in both of those categories in any month in which each big-league team played at least 10 games. Ken Caminiti led the majors with 14 home runs and 38 RBIs in August 1996.
CABRERA HAS CAUGHT UP WITH PEAVY
From Elias: Miguel Cabrera had three hits off Jake Peavy - a two-run homer, a leadoff double and a single in the middle of the game-winning three-run rally in the seventh inning - in the Tigers' 7-4 triumph over the White Sox. Cabrera has had an interesting career against Peavy: only four hits - all singles - and 11 strikeouts in his first 28 at-bats against the right-hander, but now eight hits in his last 14 at-bats (all this season), including a pair of home runs. (Peavy, by the way, entered Friday's game having held right-handed batters to a .198 batting average this season.)
BRUCE PUTS ANOTHER LEFTY IN HIS BOOK
From Elias: Jay Bruce's three-run homer off Fernando Abad in the fifth inning broke open a close game and launched the Reds to a 9-3 victory in Houston. It was Bruce's 28th home run of the season and his 10th off a left-handed pitcher; he had hit 12 homers off lefties in 2010 and 11 last year.
Bruce is the lone left-handed hitter with 10-or-more home runs against left-handed pitchers in each of the last three seasons (that is, 2010, 2011 and 2012). And he has tied the Reds' record of three straight seasons with 10-or-more lefty-on-lefty homers; Ted Kluszewski (1953-55) and Adam Dunn (2004-06) are the others who did that.
DICKEY DAZZLES MARLINS
From Elias: R. A. Dickey blanked the Marlins in Miami, 3-0, and became the first pitcher in Mets history to throw three shutouts in a season after his 37th birthday. (Tom Seaver, who tossed a pair of shutouts at age 38 in 1983, was the only Mets pitcher 37 or older who had two shutouts in one season.) In fact, you have to go back 11 years to find the last 37-or-older pitcher with any big-league team to throw at least three shutouts in a season; Randy Johnson had four in 2002, when he turned 39 in September. (And before Johnson, you go back to 1994, when Dennis Martinez, who turned 39 that May, had three.)
VOLSTAD FOLLOWS 14-GAME LOSING STREAK WITH 2 WINS
From Elias: Chris Volstad, who prior to winning his last start had lost 14 consecutive decisions dating back to August 14 of last year, earned another win as the Cubs downed the bone-tired Giants (who had played a night game in Houston on Thursday before traveling to Chicago for Friday's day game at Wrigley Field). Volstad became the first major-leaguer since 1954 to end a losing streak of at least that length with a pair of wins in consecutive appearances, both as a starter. The last big-leaguer to produce that sequence was Charlie Bishop of the Philadelphia Athletics, who actually won three straight starts after having lost 17 decisions in succession.
RIZZO BELTS 10TH HOME RUN
From Elias: Anthony Rizzo saw his would-be triple morph into his 10th home run of the season, via replay review, in the Cubs' victory on Friday. Rizzo, playing in his 58th game this season, became only the second Cubs rookie in the last 40 years to hit 10 home runs within his first 60 games of a season; four years ago, Geovany Soto reached double-digits in his 54th game.