Raiders

Giants face Reds club that 'stinks right now'

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Giants face Reds club that 'stinks right now'

July 29, 2011GIANTS (61-44) vs.CINCINNATI (44-57)

Coverage begins at 3:30 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.

CINCINNATI (AP) -- Carlos Beltran was not much of a factor in his debut for the Giants, but his new team is glad to have the star outfielder on board.

Beltran looks for better results when the Giants try to hand the Cincinnati Reds a fifth consecutive loss Friday night at Great American Ball Park.

The six-time All-Star had his string of reaching base safely end at 32 games when he went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts during Thursday's 4-1 win at Philadelphia. Beltran did make a sliding catch to rob Jimmy Rollins of a hit.

Despite totaling eight runs in the three-game series, the Giants (61-44) won the final two against the MLB-leading Phillies.

"These guys have been there before, and everyone knows their role," Beltran said of his new team. "I'm just looking forward to jumping in and doing the best I can to help this team continue to win ballgames offensively and defensively."

San Francisco has won 13 of 18 and owns a four-game lead atop the NL West, and it may have sent a message to Philadelphia by acquiring Beltran from the Mets.

"When you're defending world champions, you do have to try to defend that title any way you can," general manager Brian Sabean said. "Hopefully we show we mean business."

Pablo Sandoval hit a solo homer and Tim Lincecum gave up three hits over six scoreless innings Thursday. With a major league-best 3.06 ERA, the Giants' pitchers may not need Beltran to put up gaudy offensive numbers.

Scheduled Friday starter Ryan Vogelsong (8-1, 2.10 ERA) is 5-0 in 10 starts since losing to Florida on May 26. The All-Star right-hander labored some but limited Milwaukee to two runs in five innings of a 4-2 win Saturday.

Vogelsong allowed two runs and struck out six in six innings but did not factor in the decision of a 3-2 win over the Reds on June 10.

While the Giants are riding high, Cincinnati (50-55) tries to regroup after it was outscored 30-19 while being swept in a four-game series at home by the Mets this week. The reigning NL Central champions are 8-15 in July and are fourth in the division, 6 12 games behind first-place Milwaukee.

"We stink right now," utility man Miguel Cairo said after Thursday's 10-9 loss. "We have to start playing like we know how. ... Everyone on this team has to do better than we are right now."

Reigning NL MVP Joey Votto has held his own by homering in each of the last three games and going 6 for 13 with five RBIs during that stretch. Votto, who has never homered in four straight contests, has batted .371 with two home runs and seven RBIs his last nine games versus San Francisco.

Veteran left-hander Dontrelle Willis (0-1, 3.71) tries to help the Reds get back on track after starting their most recent win. He allowed three runs over 6 1-3 innings of a 4-3 win over Atlanta on Sunday in his third start since being called up July 10.

Willis, who made five Triple-A appearances in the Giants organization last year, is 1-3 with a 5.00 ERA in eight career starts versus San Francisco -- the last coming with Florida in 2007.

Beltran, who went 1 for 6 with two RBIs and three walks in two games this week at Cincinnati for the Mets, is 9 for 31 (.290) with a homer versus Willis.

Three things you need to know from Raiders’ 31-30 victory over Chiefs

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Three things you need to know from Raiders’ 31-30 victory over Chiefs

OAKLAND – Three things you need to know about the Raiders’ 31-30 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night:

1. Back from the brink

The Raiders are still under .500. They face an uphill climb getting back into playoff consideration following a crippling four-game losing streak.

Still. 3-4 is a whole heck of a lot better than the alternative.

“Yeah, 2-5 did not sound good,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “That made our stomach hurt. We wanted to come out here and get a big win. This is a big win. For our team, especially with the adversity we’ve gone through.”

The Raiders looked lost during their downturn, when a loaded offense averaged 13.1 points per game. They fell to 14th in the AFC and last in their division. Perceived strengths proved suspect. Everything was called into question.

If the Raiders were drowning, Thursday was that point in the movie where the hero reappears taking a huge, dramatic breath.

The Raiders are alive again, especially in beating the AFC West leading Kansas City Chiefs. There’s work ahead to make it more than a really fun night, but Thursday proved their survival instincts are still keen.

“It felt good,” left tackle Donald Penn said. “I wish it would have happened a few weeks ago. We wouldn’t be sitting here like that. You all would have been talking like ‘OK, we’re on a run.' I’m glad to get things going.

“I told them today I was going to go out there and let it rip. I told some other guys to go out there and let it rip. This offense was trying to be too perfect. We had high hopes going into the season when we started, then we hit adversity. We couldn’t find a way to get out of there fast enough. Now we’re getting out of this, but we have to keep it going. One thing we have been doing is we’ve been working as hard as we do every week. It’s starting to pay off.”

2. Dormant volcano erupts

The Raiders offense was horrible four straight games. The season’s first two games proved what a loaded unit can do when functioning well, but those efforts got lost in a wash of bad play.

An MVP-caliber quarterback’s play was openly questioned for the first time. So was a bright young coordinator taking shrapnel for the team’s misgivings. Averaging 13 points per game will make a fan base an angry mob. The offense grossly underperformed, but raw talent didn’t diminish.

Production was hot lava, bubbling underneath the surface. It erupted on Thursday night, with the previously cautious Raiders offense opened up and consistently took yards in chunks.

In doing so, a lost offense may have found an identity, a fallback: The Raiders can flat out sling it.

Quarterback Derek Carr was throwing darts all over the field, completing 29-of-52 passes for 417 yards and three touchdowns. He averaged 8.0 yards per pass play and, at times, threw people open or allowed receivers to make a play in tight coverage.

Pass catchers certainly did that. Amari Cooper had 11 catches for 210 and two scores. Tight end Jared Cook had six receptions for 107 yards. Michael Crabtree only had 24 yards, but snagged the game-deciding touchdown.

It felt and looked like the Raiders offense everyone expected each week, finally back on track. That was clear after Carr threw Amari Cooper a touchdown pass the first two drives.

“We struggled to do a lot of things over the last month,” Carr said. “To start fast, again I think that gives life to a team. That’s a sense of hope, which we always have and belief and those kind of things, but to start fast, it always just gives your team a little boost at the beginning that you have to have.”

In previous weeks, the Raiders were wound too tight. They strived for perfection and failed to attain anything close. They just let loose, and went for it. An offense with no TNT blew up, to the tune of six explosive plays.

“We got so many weapons, we got so many explosive athletes on our offense but just in these last four games that we loss we were just so out of whack,” running back Jalen Richard said. “It was little stuff here and there, technical, maybe a missed assignment here and there. Guys were doing their thing, guys were playing hard. We believed the whole game even when we got down a little bit. We pulled through and got the win.”

3. Return of the 2016 Raiders

Last season’s Raiders owned the fourth quarter. They generated seven come-from-behind victories last season thanks to offensive magic and timely defense.

That’s how they erased a nine-point, fourth-quarter deficit against Kansas City. They never wavered, even in tough times. The defense provided opportunity. With two minutes remaining, the offense got it done.

Derek Carr orchestrated an 11-play, 85-yard drive that ended with a touchdown pass to Crabtree on the second straight untimed down brought on by defensive penalty.

That moment produced great emotion. It should’ve after completing one of the wildest comebacks in franchise history. The drive itself, however, was clinical.

The Raiders believed they would score. They expected it.

"There was no panic, or anxiety or anything like that,” left guard Kelechi Osemele said. “We were going to get the job done. There was never, ever any doubt.”

That’s exactly what last year’s Raiders did. On the regular. They couldn’t respond well to adversity in recent games. They found their magic on Thursday night.

Mark your calendars right now for Raiders-Chiefs 2.0 in December

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Mark your calendars right now for Raiders-Chiefs 2.0 in December

In case you were asking, and you shouldn’t have been because this game deserves to be savored a bit longer, it’s December 10.
 
That’s when the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders play each other again, in case Thursday night wasn’t good enough for you.

You philistines.

And while there are some folks who won’t be happy (those who like the Chiefs or bet the Chiefs), there won’t be a more magnificently bizarre game this NFL season – because these two teams are exactly that.
 
Bizarre.
 
The Chiefs, who two weeks ago were the best team in football as voted on by the instant punditocracy, made enough mistakes in the last two minutes of Thursday’s 31-30 defeat to lose 47-10.
 
And the Raiders did the same, capped off by Marshawn Lynch’s gloriously Oaklandish reaction to fellow citizen Marcus Peters’ late hit on Derek Carr – namely, “I got your rules and your respect for officials right here!”
 
But in the end – the glorious, bizarre, untimed end – the Raiders saved themselves from pre-Halloween doom, the Chiefs reverted to the team you can never fully trust, and the rest of the NFL can only shake its collective neckless head in wonderment at the power of the old American Football League.
 
Because that, ultimately, is what this was – a game out of time. This was a throwback game, all the way back to the mid- to late-60s, when the Raiders and Chiefs hated each other not out of historical duty but out of genuine solar-generated animosity. When they both played as though their cars were being looted in the parking lot, and when 750-yard combined passing nights were actually not that unusual. They were hell-bent then, and Thursday showed that they still have that bent in their DNA even now.
 
This was that era, played out in a way that old Raider and Chiefs fans can tell their grandchildren, “Now you’re sitting there scratching your head and all, but I’m telling you that used to happen all the time. You think Marcus Peters was bad? Google Ben Davidson on Len Dawson, little Tad.”
 
And it ended the only way it could for the good of the rivalry – with Oakland winning, and in the most staggeringly improbable way.
 
Not because the Raiders are more noble human beings or a superior life form from a time long ago, but because that December 10 game needs to mean something. The Raiders needed to win Thursday because losing meant their playoff hopes would be deservedly dead, and their remaining nine games would be reduced to competitive afterthoughts, and the year would be reduced to wondering why what should have been never came close to happening.
 
And the Chiefs needed to lose because running away with a division this difficult just seems wrong. There is nothing that says Kansas City isn’t better than Denver, or Oakland or the Fightin’ StubHubs, but it shouldn’t be this easy. The Patriots may have eaten the AFC East and spit the bones into a dumpster long ago, but the AFC West clung harder to its AFL roots than the East ever did.
 
And Thursday was the evidence required to show that, at least for the Chiefs and Raiders, the old days can be recreated with a keen eye for the most malevolent details and the most bizarre turns of fortune.
 
Call it nostalgia on crank – seemingly the only thing we have left that can bond the generations in these otherwise mean-spirited days.