Raiders

Giants hold off D'backs, preserve win for Cain

487864.jpg

Giants hold off D'backs, preserve win for Cain

June 14, 2011BOXSCORE GIANTSVIDEOMLBPAGE MLBSCOREBOARD

PHOENIX (AP) So used to playing close games, the San Francisco Giants almost didn't know what to do with big early lead.Leading by five runs after becoming the first team to rough up Arizona's Josh Collmenter, the Giants escaped some shaky moments by starter Matt Cain and closer Brian Wilson to hold off the Diamondbacks 6-5 on Tuesday night and maintain their slim grip on the NL West lead."Doesn't matter the team, we usually play tight games," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "We don't have too many games that get out of hand either way."Scratching out a few runs while relying on solid pitching had kept the defending World Series champions in the division race with the surging Diamondbacks.
GIANTS INSIDER GALLERY: Sandoval's return
A team with the second-lowest run support in the NL (3.61 per game), the Giants found themselves in an unfamiliar spot after Cody Ross hit a two-run double and scored on a double steal in the fifth inning off Collmenter (4-2).Leading 5-0 after Collmenter's first shaky outing in a superb rookie season, San Francisco watched Cain (6-4) nearly give it all back, allowing Arizona to pull within 5-4 on Miguel Montero's three-run homer in the sixth inning.But, back in the comfort of a close game, the Giants closed it out.Nate Schierholtz gave San Francisco a cushion run with a run-scoring double in the seventh and the combination of Jeremy Affeldt, Sergio Romo and Javier Lopez bridged the gap to Wilson.The shaggy-bearded closer made it interesting, walking two and uncorking a wild pitch to put runners on second and third with two outs, but struck out Stephen Drew looking for his 19th save to push the Giants 1 12 games ahead of Arizona."We were putting together good at-bats - we've had a long string of that," Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said. "I thought we had a real good shot in the ninth inning, just unable to get him in. The guy (Wilson) is pretty good out there."This three-day meeting for first place features teams in different states of mind.The Giants have had a rough go of defending their World Series title, battered and beaten down by a tough stretch in the schedule and a tougher stretch of injuries.Catcher Buster Posey (ankle) is out for the season, second baseman Freddy Sanchez (shoulder) for who knows how long and rookie Brandon Belt (wrist) possibly another month. San Francisco had gone 20 days without a day off before traveling on Monday.Despite the roster attrition, the Giants have stayed near the top of the NL West, winning eight of 12 games to enter the series against Arizona a half-game ahead. They also got slugging third baseman Pablo Sandoval back after more than a month on the DL with a broken right wrist.
URBAN: Sandoval's return brings pumped-up Panda
The Diamondbacks had made a surprising run toward the top.Already 6 12 games out of first at the end of April, Arizona turned it around quickly in May, a 15-2 stretch igniting seven wins in 10 series. The Diamondbacks were coming off three straight road wins over Florida, moving them seven games above .500 for the first time since Aug. 23, 2008 (68-61).A rare off night by Collmenter spoiled a chance to keep it going.Sandoval had a run-scoring off him in the first, then Cain helped himself with a sacrifice bunt to score another run in the fourth. Ross made it 5-0 in the fifth with his RBI double and run on the double steal.Collmenter allowed five runs - one fewer than his previous 14 outings combined - eight hits and walked three."There were a couple of close pitches, but I wasn't commanding the zone like I usually am," said Collmenter, who had his 13-inning scoreless streak end in the first inning. "Wasn't able to pound strikes and get ahead. I was falling behind too much."Cain nearly gave almost all of it back.The right-hander had the Diamondbacks guessing through four innings before Ryan Roberts drove in a run with a sacrifice fly in the fifth. Montero made what had been a one-sided game close with one swing of the bat the next inning, lifting his three-run homer to right.Schierholtz put San Francisco up two with a double in the seventh inning, an important run after Arizona's Justin Upton hit run-scoring double down the line in left in the bottom half made it 6-5.Upton's hit chased Cain, who allowed five runs and eight hits in 6 2-3 innings."I just need to stay locked in and I didn't do that the last couple of innings," said Cain, who has a five-game winning streak against Arizona.San Francisco's bullpen made sure it didn't hurt him.Notes: Despite a temperature of 104 at first pitch, the roof at Chase Field was open for the game. ... Arizona CF Chris Young had his errorless streak end at 66 games by booting Schierholtz's double in the seventh. ... Cain has pitched 1,188 career innings, passing John Montefusco for eighth on San Francisco's all-time list.

Three things you need to know after the Raiders’ 33-8 loss to the Patriots

seth-us.jpg
USATSI

Three things you need to know after the Raiders’ 33-8 loss to the Patriots

MEXICO CITY – Three things you need to know after the Raiders’ 33-8 loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City:

1. So you’re saying there’s a chance?

The Raiders aren’t stacking wins as they’d like. Nobody in the AFC West is, either. The Chiefs lost another one, meaning the AFC West crown remains within reach. They’re two games back in the division and one back in the wild card race.

That, above all else, will keep the Raiders motivated after a disastrous loss to New England.

“We're professionals and to me, so long as you have hope, you keep your hope, you keep hope alive,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “So, we'll continue to scratch and claw and fight for everything we can.”

The Raiders can harken Lloyd Christmas from “Dumb and Dumber.” So you’re saying there’s a chance?

The Raiders will only stay in it if they start a prolonged winning streak. There’s a chance do that on an upcoming two-game home stand. They play Denver and the New York Giants, respectively, in Oakland over the next fortnight. Those teams have five wins between them.

Wins can’t be assumed with the Raiders. With their inconsistency and mistake-prone play, they can lose to anyone.

Fight remains in this group. They’ll continue to push, especially with a 9-7 record being a legitimate playoff contender. They haven’t played worthy of such consideration, but remain hopeful a switch gets flipped.

“We are who we are, we're not going to turn on each other, we're not going to turn on anything about what we do,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “Obviously, we know that our culture and everything that we do works, because we have seen it work.”

2. Receiver corps becoming a weak spot

The Raiders have a talented group of receivers lacking consistency and production. That was the case on Sunday, when pass catchers hindered offensive flow and scoring opportunities.

Seth Roberts was the biggest offender. He had a drop, a false start and lost a fumble near the goal line with the Patriots up 14-0 late in the first half. Roberts had 12 yards in his pocket but held the ball one-handed, away from his body fighting for more. Marquis Flowers knocked it free and Patrick Chung recovered.

That was the turning point, a true 10-point swing. The Raiders lost a chance to reach the end zone, and allowed New England to get a field goal as the half expired.

“That was a major turn of events,” Del Rio said.

The slot receiver wasn’t the only receiver who stalled the Raiders offense. That group had five drops, according to Pro Football Focus, including two from Michael Crabtree. Johnny Holton wasn’t credited with a drop, but he had a perfectly thrown deep ball clang off his helmet and shoulder pads.

It’s a bad night in a bad year for the Raiders receivers, who haven’t been producing.

3. Lopsided score keeps Marshawn from going Beast Mode

Running back Marshawn Lynch was the only player who had a good Sunday. The bruising back ran roughshod over New England’s front seven, right from the start. He totaled 67 yards on 11 carries, and seemed primed for a big day and a higher-than-usual carry volume.

He and the Raiders run blocking was consistent, allowing him to reach the second level on several occasions.

The lopsided score, however, meant the Raiders had to abandon the ground game.

“I thought we ran the ball well early,” Del Rio said. “I would like to have ended up with 30-plus rush attempts in the ball game, but you got to stay within reasonable amount of the score in order to stick with the run.”

The Raiders were down two touchdowns in a flash, and were three scores behind at the half. That forced Derek Carr to chuck it towards an unreliable receiver corps. That method proved inefficient and never created the big moments.

Lynch has run well since returning from a one-game suspension. He has 25 carries for 124 yards and two touchdowns in his last two games. If there’s a positive to take from Sunday’s beat down, Lynch’s efficiency might be it.

Del Rio calls out NFL for Raiders losing home games to go abroad

jack-ap.jpg
AP

Del Rio calls out NFL for Raiders losing home games to go abroad

MEXICO CITY – The Raiders have played in Mexico City the last two years, and have given up a home game to do it.

You already know head coach Jack Del Rio’s stance on the matter. He doesn’t like it. Not one bit.

The NFL announced Sunday morning that Mexico City will host games annually through 2021. The Raiders will be on the short list to return during that span.

“They’ve done a nice job for us over the last two years,” Del Rio said. “If it was a road game, I’d enjoy it. If they stop making (international contests) our home games, we’ll be fine.”

Hate to be the bearer of bad news Jack, but the Raiders will keep giving home games away. That’s expected each year until the Raiders formally move to Las Vegas.

The Raiders might not come back to Mexico for a third straight season, but could host a game in London next year. The NFL sent four games to the United Kingdom this year.

The Raiders have a massive fan base in England and Mexico, which makes them an attractive option to play abroad.

It might make financial sense for the team and the league to expand its base beyond borders, but the football people don’t find it fun.

The Raiders had more fans watching Sunday’s 33-8 loss to the New England Patriots at Estadio Azteca, but it’s no substitute for playing in Oakland.

“I think the crowd down here is pretty excited for the Raiders, so we appreciate that,” Del Rio said. “When you travel four-and-a-half hours, you’re not at home. We appreciate the hospitality and the good people who came out and supported us, but it’s hard to call it a home game.”

This one, especially. The Raiders had overwhelming support last year’s game against Houston, but Patriots fans were a large and vocal minority. They had plenty to cheer, as the Patriots waxed the Silver and Black over four quarters.

It’s hard to say the Raiders had a home crowd this time around, with plenty of noise when they were on offense.

“You know what, traveling down here, I think it was like four hours or something like that, and getting here, I think that hospitality was great, but it really wasn't, it wasn't the Coliseum,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “It didn’t have that feel. Now, we loved playing here, we loved coming down here and playing, but it felt more neutral.”