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Thursday, August 10

   by Larry Ness - 08/10/2006

MLB's longest active winning streak came to an end last night, as the Rockies' two-run ninth was enough to get them past the Dodgers by the score of 3-1. LA had won 11 straight games, its longest streak in 13 years and prevented the team's first 12-game winning streak since 1976.

I'm passing on a free play for Thursday but do have an NFLX doubleheader for tonight's play. Get BOTH of tonight's 15* preseason games on just one report. In MLB, it's my 15* AL Blowout of the Month.

The A's and Angels owned the second and third-longest winnings streaks behind the Dodgers and both of those teams not only lost but were shutout! The A's owned a six-game winning streak entering Wednesday's play and lost 14-0 to the Rangers in an afternoon game. It was the worst shutout loss the A's have ever suffered in Oakland. The Angels took a four-game winning streak into their evening game at Cleveland and lost 4-0.

Cleveland's Jake Westbrook scattered nine hits in the Indians' shutout of the Angels, six days after allowing 15 hits in a victory over the Red Sox. Only two other pitchers in the last 50 years have thrown a complete-game shutout after allowing as many as 15 hits in their previous appearance: Roger Clemens in 1988 and Jack Billingham in 1977.

The Rangers and Indians had both entered Wednesday's games with losing streaks of four straight, the longest active losing streaks in MLB. Yesterday's results leaves the Mets' modest four-game winning streak as the longest active streak in the majors and Boston's and Pittsburgh's four-game losing streaks as the longest active losing streaks.

More highlights from Wednesday include the Twins beating the Tigers for the second straight night, 4-3. Johan Santana got the win and is now an almost unbelievable 34-3 during the season's second half since the 2003 All Star break. Justin Morneau's eighth-inning home run, the winning hit in the Twins' 4-3 victory over the Tigers, was his 30th homer of the season.

Morneau is the first Twins player to reach that level since Kent Hrbek, Tom Brunansky, and Gary Gaetti all did it in 1987. Minnesota's streak of 18 seasons without a 30-homer player was the longest since the White Sox ended a 69-year drought -- longest in major-league history -- when Bill Melton hit 33 home runs in 1970.

Speaking of the White Sox, they were almost no-hit by the Yankees' Randy Johnson but then almost made an amazing comeback in a 7-6 loss. Johnson's bid for his third no-hitter was spoiled by Tadahito Iguchi's single on an 0-2 pitch leading off the seventh inning. The White Sox went on to score two runs in the 7th and four in the 8th.

Johnson owns two career no-hitters, including MLB's last perfect game (against the Braves on May 18, 2004). There have been 5,990 games played since May 19, 2004, by far the longest span of games without a no-hitter in major-league history. It was 12th time that Johnson held his opponent hitless through six innings, the highest total among active pitchers. The Rocket has done it seven times and Pedro six times.

While many may not like the idea of the wild card, it sure keeps things interesting. There's a great three-team race brewing in the AL as the 67-46 Twins lead the 66-46 White Sox and the 65-47 Red Sox. The 59-55 Reds lead the way over in the NL, closely followed by the 58-56 D'backs and Dodgers. Just 3 1/2 games back at 55-58 are three more teams; the Astros, Phillies and Rockies. Stay tuned.

Thursday's 11-game schedule features three afternoon games, two of which begin as I go to press (but are worth mentioning). The Padres are in New York to take on the Mets (12:10 ET) and the Cards are in Cincinnati to take on the Reds (12:35 ET). Chris Young starts for San Diego and 6-10 third-year player is an amazing 5-0 (2.42) on the road in 10 starts this year with the Padres winning nine of the 10 games.

Bronson Arroyo starts for the Reds and he will be making his 10th try for his 10th win. That's right. Arroyo moved to 9-3 on the 2006 season with a 4-2 June 19 win against the Mets. However, he's made nine previous attempts to win his 10th game of the year, going 0-4 with a 5.31 ERA (team is 3-6 in his nine starts)!

NFL notes

Week 1 of the NFL's preseason opens tonight with the Browns at the Eagles (7:30 ET) and the Colts at the Rams (8:00 ET on FOX). Two interesting streaks are on the line tonight, as the Browns take a seven-game preseason ATS winning streak into their game with the Eagles. Romeo Crennel in his rookie year as Cleveland's head coach led the Browns to a 3-1 (4-0 ATS) mark last year plus the Browns had 'covered' their last three games of the 2004 preseason as well.

When the Colts meet the Rams tonight, in the NFL coaching debut for Scott Linehan, they'll be trying to snap a six-game (1-5 ATS) preseason losing streak. The Colts went 0-5 SU and ATS in last year preseason plus lost (but covered) in their final game of the 2004 preseason as well. Just a word to the wise, the Colts were so devastated by last year's poor preseason mark, they opened the 2005 regular season by winning their first 13 games!

The Chiefs, who visit the Texans on Saturday night (8:00 ET on CBS), also own a six-game preseason losing streak and the Chiefs have one-upped the Colts, going 0-6 ATS in those six losses. The Broncos, who went 4-0 in last year's preseason (3-1 ATS), own the longest active preseason winning streak.

Tomorrow's notes will focus on some of the best and worst recent preseason records plus offer some tidbits on a number of NFL coaches and how they've fared over the years in these "practice games."

Ness Notes is available Monday through Friday by 1:00 ET.

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