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Box Score Bits: Berkman, Branyan return

4/21/2010

New York Mets pitcher Mike Pelfrey, the team leader in wins and saves, hurled seven shutout innings against the Chicago Cubs Tuesday, lowering his ERA to 0.86. Pelfrey, who had a 5.03 ERA in 31 starts a year ago, looks like a new pitcher. At 26, this breakout could be real.

• The Atlanta Braves were shut out Tuesday for eight innings by Philadelphia Phillies right-hander Kyle Kendrick, but hit two ninth-inning home runs and got a Nate McLouth game-winner in the 10th inning. McLouth's first home run could be a turning point; he's hitting .167 but has opportunity to reclaim the team's leadoff spot.

Box Score Bits

Get your brief daily look at the previous day's box scores first thing every Monday through Friday!

Lance Berkman returned to the Houston Astros, and his teammates stepped up as well. Berkman doubled and knocked in two runs in four at-bats Tuesday, but the best sign might have been Carlos Lee and Hunter Pence combining for three hits and three runs scored. Buy low!

Russell Branyan (back) made his season debut for the Cleveland Indians Tuesday, batting sixth and playing first base, and hitting a single in three at-bats. Don't forget Branyan hit 31 home runs last season. Matt LaPorta, who has played 10 games at first base, will see more action in left field moving forward.

Boston Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield can be run on, but the Texas Rangers took the strategy to a new level, swiping nine bases in five innings. Nelson Cruz and Elvis Andrus each stole three bases, Vladimir Guerrero stole two and Julio Borbon contributed one. Wakefield, who allowed six runs in six innings, is next scheduled to face the Baltimore Orioles. Then again, healthy Daisuke Matsuzaka could replace him.

Vernon Wells owners might be selling high, but Wells hasn't stopped hitting. The Toronto Blue Jays center fielder cracked his seventh home run Tuesday. The last time Wells hit seven or more home runs in a month: April 2006.