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Rollins' hitting streak over at 38

Rollins' hitting streak halted at 38

PHILADELPHIA -- When Jimmy Rollins' seventh-inning fly ball nestled into Jim Edmonds' glove, representing the easy second out of the frame, the streak was still breathing.

A ninth-inning rally on Thursday could've meant one more chance to continue the pursuit of Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio's record 56-game hitting streak, one more shot at hitting a dying quail, Texas Leaguer or smash inside the bag that would have pushed him to 39, and one step closer to the unbreakable record -- and allow him to do it all over again on Friday.

This time, there was no ninth-inning rally, forcing Rollins to instead discuss an outstanding accomplishment in its own right, the eighth-longest hitting streak in Major League history.

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It's just that 38 isn't 56 ... or 57.

"I always said that was a large number," Rollins said. "I had a chance and came up short, but I still have another chance to do it. I have a lot of games left."

He smiled as he said that, knowing the magic required for such a feat, the luck mixed with skill, and the amazing consistency required. Yet, still he grasped that he has plenty of baseball left this season and in his career.

Another streak is possible.

Heck, Rollins has been telling his younger brother, Antwon, before every season that he was going to break that record. He didn't this year because he still had last year's going. Unfazed, Rollins will make a new pledge.

"Yeah I'll probably give him a call," Rollins said. "Tomorrow, tonight, sometime. We need to start a winning streak first. That's what's most important."

Rollins' streak ended quietly in Philadelphia's 4-2 loss to St. Louis at Citizens Bank Park, with Jason Marquis and Josh Hancock finally holding Rollins hitless for the first time since Aug. 23, thus preserving the Hall of Famer's 64-year-old record.

Rollins posed the biggest threat since Hall of Famer Paul Molitor's 39-gamer with the Brewers in 1987. On Aug. 26, 1987, Molitor waited on deck when teammate Rick Manning delivered a game-winning hit in the bottom of the 10th to end the game.

Rollins didn't get close. He flew out to right in the first, grounded to Marquis on a bunt attempt in the third and flew to left in the fifth.

"I wasn't really thinking about it," said Marquis. "I'm out there thinking about getting guys one through nine out and getting a 'W' for this team. The streak he had was nice, but obviously it has to end sometime. I know he's a pretty aggressive hitter. Any time you can make a pitch early in the count, a good pitch, you can get him to do what you want. He doesn't usually work the count pretty deep. We were able to throw some quality pitches on him today and get success."

All-time Consecutive Game Hitting Streaks
Jimmy Rollins entered the season chasing history.
Hits
Player
Team
Year
56Joe DiMaggioYankees1941
45Willie KeelerOrioles1896-97
44Pete RoseReds1978
42Bill DahlenCubs1894
41George SislerBrowns1922
40Ty CobbTigers1911
39Paul MolitorBrewers1987
38Jimmy RollinsPhillies2005-06
The marks for longest hitting streak in one season and longest spanning two seasons are separate records, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. DiMaggio holds both marks with his 56-game streak in 1941. Keeler (1896-1897) holds the NL mark for two seasons at 45 games, while Keeler and Rose share the NL record for one season at 44 games.

Hancock, a former Phillie farmhand, recorded the flyout in the seventh. None of Rollins' four balls came close to being a hit.

"Jimmy's going to get his [hits]," Hancock said. "He's a great player. I just happened to be the last pitcher."

Rollins set the franchise record last season and owns the eighth-longest streak over two seasons in Major League history. He batted .379 (64-for-169) along the way, with 22 doubles, four triples and three homers. It began against the Giants in San Francisco, about 15 miles from where he grew up.

"I just wasn't getting good swings on the ball," said Rollins. "They didn't do anything different. They came right at me, threw strikes. I had some bad results."

His teammates enjoyed the journey.

"It's unfortunate that it ended," said catcher Mike Lieberthal. "It was quite a feat, and a great ride to watch for so many days."

"I'm glad he had it," said reliever Rheal Cormier. "We would have loved for him to keep it going."

As part of the ride, Rollins made it easy at times (14 times he extended the streak in the first inning) and stressful (12 times he did it in his final at-bat). Games like Opening Day, when he swung at a 3-0 count before doubling in the eighth, and Wednesday, when he doubled on the second pitch, illustrate both sides.

"It's astonishing," said outfielder Shane Victorino, who often kept Rollins loose during games by soft-tossing to him in the batting cage. "[DiMaggio's] record is going to stand for a long time. Look at today. It went for so long and [Rollins] only ended up with 38. That's still 18 short. When you see that record, you think somebody is going to break it, but I think to myself, 'Will this ever be broken?'"

Rollins still hopes to answer that question, someday.

Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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