Around the horn: Aug. 17


? Dontrelle Willis and Mark Mulder both pitched five-hit shutouts. Willis (16-8) tossed his Major League-leading fifth shutout this season, lifting the Marlins past the Padres, 6-0. And Mulder (14-6) earned his second shutoutr, helping the Cardinals beat the Diamondbacks, 5-0.

Willis is having a nice year. He’s second in the National League in wins, and fourth in ERA, but there’s no way he’s going to win the Cy Young with Roger Clemens and Chris Carpenter pitching the way they have this season.

Mulder, by the way, is having a nice summer. He’s 5-2 in his last 10 starts with a 3.86 ERA.

? Weird pitching number of the night: Carlos Zambrano, Noah Lowry and Johan Santana each threw 8 1/3 sharp innings Wednesday. Zambrano fanned 10 in the Cubs’ 4-2 win over the Astros. Lowry whiffed seven in the Giants’ 3-2 win against the Reds. And Santana took a no-hitter in the seventh, fanning 10 White Sox in the Twins’ 5-1 win.

? Mark Buerhle — who I thought was a shoo-in for the AL Cy Young a month ago — is s t r u g g l i n g. He’s 4-5 with a 4.11 ERA over his last 10 starts. On Wednesday in the White Sox loss against Santana, Buerhle allowed five runs — four earned — on eight hits over seven innings.

59xijtsh ? Astros co-ace Roy Oswalt lost his 10th game of the season in that duel with Zambrano. He’s the only pitcher in the Major Leagues with 10 losses and an ERA (2.67) under 3.00.

? Speaking of the Astros: The have some company atop the National League Wild Card standings. Jon Lieber pitched six strong innings and Bobby Abreu hit a two-run double, leading the Phillies to a 4-3 win over the Nationals and a share of the Wild Card lead.

? Those poor, poor Royals did it again. They lost their club-record 18th straight game, 11-5, to Seattle on Wednesday. The Royals are just three losses from matching the AL record of 21 in a row by the 1988 Orioles. The modern Major League record for consecutive losses is 23, set by the 1961 Phillies. The all-time Major League record is 24, set by the 1899 Cleveland Spiders.

Next up for the Royals? The A’s, Red Sox and Yankees.

? By beating the Yankees, 7-6, the Rays gave manager Lou Piniella his 1,500th managerial victory to put him in the elite company of Joe Torre and Fred Clarke as the only three in Major League history to have 1,500 wins as a manager and 1,500 career hits as a player.

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