Kazmir maintains dominant streak: Rays left-hander Scott Kazmir missed the first month of the season with a strained left elbow and lost his first start to Boston. Since then, he's 5-0 with a 0.55 ERA, his latest victory coming on Saturday when he pitched seven shutout innings in the Rays' 2-0 win over the White Sox.

"We needed a great pitching performance today ... and we got it," manager Joe Maddon told the Tampa Bay Tribune. "The velocity was there, the command of his fastball was there. I thought he threw some sliders that were pretty good -- also some pretty good changeups. I thought he was closer to what we saw at the end of last season today."

At-bat is one for the ages for Ellis: The A's broke out for 13 runs against the Rangers on Sunday as Oakland avoided a sweep by its division rival. The A's hit two home runs in the game, including one by second baseman Mark Ellis that capped off a 13-pitch at-bat.

"That was the best at-bat I've seen in 30 years," A's manager Bob Geren told the San Francisco Chronicle. "Usually in a 10-pitch at-bat, just reaching base is a pretty good accomplishment. To do that with a home run is outstanding, especially with some of the pitches he fouled off. [Rangers pitcher Frank Francisco] kept throwing strike after strike after strike."

Davies impressive in streak-halting debut: Putting aside the Royals' 12-game losing streak was a key to rookie pitcher Kyle Davies winning his Major League debut. He allowed just one run in five innings on Saturday to help Kansas City beat Cleveland, 4-2.

"You can't come in thinking, 'The team has had a bad stretch, and I'm going to be the one to fix it,'" Davies told MLB.com. "Just do your job to the best of your ability, and let things fall where they fall."

Cooper tabs Berkman as tops: Astros manager and former Brewers icon Cecil Cooper says Lance Berkman is the NL's MVP so far this season. The switch-hitter ranks among the league leaders in batting average, home runs, RBIs, runs scored, hits, multi-hit games, total bases, extra-base hits and slugging percentage.

"Every day you can count on him to get a couple of hits. He's doing it all," Cooper told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

"He's been running the bases, fielding his position, and he's been a leader on the team. You can't ask for anything more. He's definitely the MVP of the league at this point."

Lieberthal hangs up cleats with Phillies: After spending 13 years as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies and one year with the Dodgers, former catcher Mike Lieberthal has officially retired as a member of the Phillies.

"To put everything I had into the Phillies for 13 years, it's pretty special," Lieberthal told MLB.com. "You don't see too many players who stay with one team in any sport for that long of a period. It's definitely an honor to come here and finish with the Phillies. I was still a Phillie at heart, even though I was in L.A. I pretty much watched every game that was on TV in the clubhouse. I still do.

"I definitely have some special friends on that team, guys I played with. It was really great to see them. Some of these guys I haven't seen in a while."

Villanueva shows effectiveness in bullpen: Carlos Villanueva began the season in the Brewers' starting rotation before being moved to the bullpen. But Villanueva doesn't see himself staying in the bullpen for the rest of the season.

"Ned's never lied to me," Villanueva, referring to manager Ned Yost, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "He said he still sees me as a starter [at some point]."

Since moving to the bullpen, Villanueva has thrown five shutout innings in three appearances, including two perfect frames on Friday night against Houston.

Posada making headway with rotator cuff rehab: Jorge Posada showed his rehabilitation from rotator cuff tendinitis is going well by catching five innings in an extended Spring Training game and making two strong throws to second base, the New York Daily News reported. It was the first time he threw in a game since he went on the disabled list more than one month ago.

"The second one was better than the first one," said Posada, referring to his throws. "It felt good throwing the ball. I'm happy with it. I'm happy the way I felt."

Guillen to bring passion to the outfield: In an effort to get Carlos Guillen, Miguel Cabrera and Brandon Inge into the lineup at the same time on Sunday, Tigers manager Jim Leyland started Guillen in left field, a position he'd never played as a professional.

"I signed as an outfielder with Houston [in 1992]," Guillen told the Detroit Free-Press. "I was working out one day at their academy in Venezuela, and I heard they were looking for an infielder.

"I told my scout in Venezuela that I could play shortstop. They let me take ground balls at short, and that was the last day I used my big [outfielder's] glove. I did play the outfield a little bit in two years of winter ball. I'm not afraid to play left. You have to have confidence to play this game. You play this game with passion."

Perez makes debut earlier than anticipated: Chris Perez, who was serving as the closer in Memphis when he was recalled last month, has an ERA of 1.29 in his eight appearances for the Cardinals.

"Coming into the year, I thought that I'd get called up here at some point," Perez told MLB.com. "I couldn't have envisioned it this quickly. I don't think anybody could."

Marmol gets lobbying votes for All-Star game: With a 1.75 ERA and 54 strikeouts in 36 innings, Cubs set-up man Carlos Marmol is beginning to get questions from reporters about whether he should make the NL All-Star team.

"It's still four weeks or so [until the All-Star Game], so I don't know," Marmol told MLB.com. "But I want to be there."

The rest of the Cubs, including Wood, think he should be there. "He'd be on my All-Star team," said Wood. "It's unbelievable what he's done this year and last year. He's been consistent. He's been dominant."

Inge returns to his home at third base: After moving from third base to center field to catcher to utility player, Brandon Inge found himself back home at the hot corner on Sunday.

"To be able to get back in there now," Inge told MLB.com, "it's very hard to put into words how excited I am. I'm not the answer by any means, but I've had a little time to sit back and look at how these guys have been playing. And we've got an unbelievable group of guys here. I just want them to have fun. I want to be a part of it. So I'm very happy to be getting some time there."

Smoltz will return from DL as a closer again: John Smoltz pitched a scoreless inning at Class A Rome and figures to be activated from the disabled list this week. His Minor League outing was the latest proof that changing his arm angle will take some of the pressure of his aching shoulder.

"I have no creativity when it comes to drawing pictures," Smoltz told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "but I have a lot of creativity when it comes to throwing a baseball. I'm using that part of my brain right now to try to get it done."

Smoltz will return to the Major Leagues as a closer. It will be his second stint in the bullpen, which he left after 2005 because he felt it was putting too much stress on his elbow.

Lincecum picks up All-Star vote from Rowand: In his first year with the Giants, Aaron Rowand is batting .335 with a .402 on-base percentage and a .530 slugging mark. Those are better numbers than he posted last season when he made the All-Star team. But if the Giants place only one player on this year's squad, Rowand thinks teammate Tim Lincecum should be that guy.

"We've got some guys having really good years," Rowand told the San Francisco Chronicle. "Right now, if I had to say one guy, it probably would be Timmy. He's throwing the heck out of the ball."

Geary shows he's ready for action: Reliever Geoff Geary worked out Saturday by throwing two simulated innings of 15 pitches each and then went through some fielding drills as he gets ready to be activated from the 15-day disabled list. Geary, on the DL with a strained right groin, said he should be ready to be activated on Tuesday before the Astros' game against Pittsburgh.

"Absolutely," he told the Houston Chronicle. "I even stretched out on a ball that went to first. I did the Lance Berkman splits, the cheerleader splits."

Wise likely on the shelf for two months: Matt Wise is expected to miss at least two months after what appeared to be right rotator cuff tendinitis became a more serious ailment. Wise, who hit only 82 mph with his fastball on Monday before being placed on the disabled list, has a nerve problem behind his right shoulder. Mets team doctors believe the nerve will heal with extended rest as opposed to surgery. Wise said he will get a second opinion.

"You have to cover all your tracks," Wise told the New York Daily News.

-- Red Line Editorial