As David Wright passes Howard Johnson to establish a new Mets record for career starts at third base, he remains envious of the man who has mentored him since he first joined the organization as an 18-year-old, first-round pick in 2001.

"He has a [World Series] ring -- he will still have that over me," Wright told the New York Daily News. "He was all about winning, and that's what I am about, too, so he still has me beat.

"He made sure I played the game right. He worked on my mind, too. That's why I worked so hard on the whole game. He not only talked to me about hitting, but about stealing bases, making sure I was playing defense hard, too."

Phillips plans to add to RBI total: Brandon Phillips already has 95 RBIs this season, and his sights are set on reaching 100.

"I'm just letting the game come to me," Phillips, who is batting .280 with 20 homers, told MLB.com. "Hopefully it happens. If it doesn't, I've already achieved my goal [originally 90 RBIs], but it'd be nice to have 100 RBIs."

Samardzija's first hit a long one: Pitcher Jeff Samardzija is the first Cubs player to hit a home run for his first big-league hit since Hee Seop Choi did it in 2002.

"It's been in my pocket," Samardzija told MLB.com, speaking of his hitting.

"I just went up there swinging, and the ball found the bat," he added. "I probably should've slowed down a little and maybe enjoyed it, because it might not happen [again] for a long time."

Greinke hopes to limit Mauer at the plate: With the Royals set to play the Twins six times over the last nine games of the season, Zack Greinke says the only way to pitch to Joe Mauer is to try to keep the ball in the park.

"You just hope he hits singles," Greinke told the Kansas City Star. "The best thing you can do with Joe Mauer is get him to hit it the opposite way and catch it on the track. That might work [this weekend] in our park if the wind is blowing in."

Hacker relishes a dream come true: Eric Hacker, a Pirates pitching prospect, had the poise to savor his Major League debut.

"Some guys reminded me that that only happens once in your career so to take a moment and try to take it in," Hacker told MLB.com. "When I got out there, I kind of took a moment and took it in and just kind of then forgot about it and focused on making the pitch. It was something you dream about since you're a little kid. For that to come true is nice."

The 26-year-old Texan allowed two earned runs on three hits in his one-inning debut on Tuesday.

A-Rod gets a spell of relief: Alex Rodriguez got some rest this week when manager Joe Girardi held him out of the starting lineup on Wednesday, and the whole team had the following day off.

"We've kept him healthy the whole year," Girardi told the New York Daily News. "We've been playing him every day, so I thought it was best that we give him a day. It's been important to spell him."

Rodriguez missed the first month of the season after having hip surgery in March. Since returning, he is hitting .283 with 27 home runs and 89 RBIs in 117 games.

Davis impressive in audition: Wade Davis is using the remaining games as an audition for the Rays' starting rotation next season.

"Definitely, I want to prove something," Davis told the Tampa Tribune. "I'm not here just to finish the season. It's kind of a big step for me. I would definitely want to have the opportunity next Spring Training to make the team. So I'm trying to do as much as I can."

In his last two starts, he has allowed only two earned runs in 14 2/3 innings for a 1.23 ERA.

Papi returns to power: David Ortiz hit his 25th home run of the season on Wednesday and added another on Thursday to continue to his surge. Since June 6, Ortiz has 25 home runs, more than any other player in the American League.

"I'm right there," Ortiz told the Boston Herald. "Everybody looks at my numbers and says, 'Wow, he had a bad season,' or whatever. Everybody knows at the beginning of the season I had a tough time. But I always say a bad season for me is a good season for another guy. [Another player] told me the other day, I'll take your numbers anytime if I'm going to arbitration."

Belliard thriving in new environment: Ronnie Belliard is playing great ball since his trade to the first-place Dodgers. The former Nationals infielder made just 20 starts in his first 87 games with Washington but has already made 16 starts for Los Angeles.

"I think I follow the group," Belliard told the Washington Post. "They're having fun. It's not like we weren't having fun over there, but sometimes you lose 10 in a row, eight in a row -- it's hard. This club is in first place."

Patterson shows promise at the plate: Eric Patterson, an infielder that Oakland acquired from the Cubs in the Rich Harden deal, hit his first home run of the year on Wednesday and followed that up on Thursday by reaching base four times and knocking in three runs in the A's 12-3 win over the Rangers.

"Guys are getting on base, and we're getting hits when we need to," Patterson told the San Francisco Chronicle. "Usually when you're winning games, it's because you're doing things like that. Obviously, we run the bases well, and we're getting ourselves into scoring position. It's a lot of fun to be part of it."

-- Red Line Editorial