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Tuesday, August 29

   by Larry Ness - 08/29/2006

I guess Carson Palmer is healthy! Playing in his first game since his knee injury in last season's playoffs, Palmer threw three touchdown passes Monday (was 9-of-14 for 140 yards), as the Bengals beat the Packers 48-17. He's the first player to throw three touchdowns in a preseason game this year, as the Bengals moved to 3-0 for the first time in preseason play since 1976. The win also guarantees the team its first winning preseason since 1988.

My free play for Tuesday is on the NY Yankees over the Det Tigers at 7:05 ET. My 9-0 win on the A's last night (Las Vegas Insiders in MLB are now 9-1 since 8/5!) ups my all-sports run to 20-6 since 8/18. I look to continue my 10-2 MLB since 8/21 tonight, with two blockbuster 15* plays. My Underdog of the Month and a rare "Road Warrior" play. Get them BOTH, right now!

The Bengals ended a 14-year playoff drought last season by going 11-5 and winning the AFC North. However, they lost their wild card game at home to the Steelers 31-17, in a game Palmer was injured in on his first pass attempt of the contest. Last night's game completed Week 3 action, as home teams went 11-5 SU and 10-6 ATS. They are 30-18 SU through three weeks with ATS records of 26-21-1.

The Bengals' 48-point effort topped their 44-point effort in Week 2 (beat the Bills in Buffalo, 44-31), as the most points scored by any team this preseason. The Patriots, in their 41-0 shut out of the Redskins Saturday night, are the only other team this year to reach the 40-point mark. New England's 41-point win marked the largest margin of victory in the preseason by any NFL team since the Seahawks beat the Colts 45-3 back in 1997 (pre-Peyton).

Just one team scored as many as 30 points in Week 1 (the Jags in their 31-26 win at Miami), seven teams score at least 30 in Week 2 and Week 3 play saw four teams reach at least 30 points. Adding in the HOF game, there have been 21 'overs' and 28 'unders' so far. Five teams remain unbeaten, with the Raiders leading the way at 4-0. The five teams have also combined to go 16-0 ATS. Four teams remain winless, going a combined 1-11 ATS.

Those numbers make sense, as through 49 games of this year's preseason, 45 of the 49 SU winners have also been the ATS winners of their games. Week 4 begins with 12 games on Thursday, August 31 and concludes with four games on Friday, September 1. The NFL's 2006 regular season opens on Thursday, September 7, when the Steelers host the Dolphins at 8:30 ET on NBC.

MLB notes

The Marlins extended MLB's longest active winning streak to eight consecutive games by beating the Brewers last night, 4-2. Florida has recovered from an 11-31 start to go 53-35 (Marlins also opened 2-13 at home but have since gone 33-17) and now sits just two games behind the Reds in the NL wild card race. The NL wild card race figures to go down to the season's last few days, as currently six teams are within 2 1/2 games of the lead.

MLB's longest active losing streak is just four games, a mark held by five teams. The Red Sox are one of those teams with four straight losses, the third time this month the team's had a losing streak of at least four games. Boston has lost 12 of 15 and its 8-19 mark in August is a ML-worst. Speaking of losing streaks, the Mariners ended one of epic proportions last night.

Felix Hernandez pitched a five-hitter for his first career shutout, leading Seattle over the Los Angeles Angels 2-0 and stopping the Mariners' 20-game losing streak against the AL West. Seattle's losing streak was the longest against division rivals since the big leagues split into divisions in 1969. It matched the 1969 Montreal Expos' skid against the NL West for the longest slide against teams from any division.

Seattle's previous win against an AL West team was June 11, when it completed a three-game sweep of the Angels. Monday's game took just 1 hour, 51 minutes, the fastest in the history of Safeco Field, which opened in July 1999 and was Seattle's fifth straight win, tying a season-high. Another game worthy of mention from last night was Oakland's 9-0 win over the Red Sox.

Esteban Loaiza threw seven scoreless innings against the Red Sox, and over his last four starts he's allowed only one earned run in 30.2 innings, for a 0.29 ERA. No other pitcher has allowed as few as one earned run in as many as 30 innings over four starts this season. Four pitchers did it last year: Jae Seo, Chris Carpenter, Mark Buehrle and Kenny Rogers.

Loaiza's run may remind some of Cory Lidle's season for the A's in 2002. Loaiza had a 6.41 ERA in 87 innings before his hot streak began. Lidle had a 5.15 ERA in 113.2 innings in 2002, then did not allow an earned run in 38 innings over next five starts, and only one earned run in 45 2/3 innings over his next six starts.

Besides those two A's pitchers, no one else in the last 30 years has had a run of four starts with zero or one earned runs in at least 30 innings, after having an ERA over 5.00 in at least 75 innings on the season when the streak began.

It's another full 15-game MLB schedule tonight, highlighted by the Tigers and Yankees in New York at 7:05 ET in the opening game of their three-game series. Detroit (82-49) and New York (77-52) both have comfortable leads in their divisions, but the Yankees have managed to pull within four games of the Tigers for the best record in the AL. New York has picked up ground on Detroit by going 27-16 since the All-Star break while the Tigers have gone 23-20.

Nate Robertson (11-10, 4.10) was one of the leaders in the Tigers' surprising start to the season, going 8-3 with a 3.14 ERA in his first 16 starts. However, he's 3-7 with a 5.50 ERA over his last 10 outings heading into tonight's game. The Yankees go with Chien-Ming Wang (15-5, 3.81 ERA). Wang owns a 4.88 road ERA but is 9-1 at home in 13 starts (Yanks are 11-2) with an ERA of 2.66.

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

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