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Tim Hudson and Dan Haren also chipped in with one-hitters, and Cliff Lee struck out 16 _ but lost because Atlanta’s Derek Lowe took a no-hitter into the seventh.

“It’s not like all the teams conspire and decide they’re not going to hit,” Colorado closer Huston Street said. “Everything has its trends. I think that we live in this information age where it’s so easy to compare everything and put some sort of ratio or say, ‘This is the week of the no-hitter.’ Before all this, people just sloughed it off.”

Theories abound on the reasons for the growing shift, on and off the field. They include:

_ The rise of the cut fastball, boring in on hitters and breaking their bats.

_ A premium on picking lots of nearly-ready-for-the-show hard throwers in the draft.

_ An emphasis on putting more athletic defensive players on the field.

_ Advances in video scouting, plus better training and treatment techniques.

Some point directly at the drug programs designed to root out steroids and amphetamines. Others aren’t so sure that’s the main reason.

“They test pitchers, too,” Oakland manager Bob Geren said, “so you can’t necessarily make that argument.”

A week after the White Sox were zipped by Liriano, Chicago first baseman Paul Konerko offered a simpler explanation for the rash of no-hitters and near no-nos.

“I think a lot of it is coincidence,” he said.

Makes sense to Kevin Correia. He struggled last season with San Diego, but is off to a terrific start for Pittsburgh _ he took a no-hit bid into the sixth inning against Milwaukee before losing.

“You know, last year was the year of the pitcher but I had a bad year, or not as good of a year,” he said.

“With the weather being pretty bad at the beginning of the year, I think it’s easier to pitch in bad weather than it is to hit. I’m sure it will turn around at some point,” he said.

That’s his forecast, anyway. Rain and snow have made an impact _ there have been 19 postponements, only two short of last year’s total.

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