Giants look to stop the bleeding vs. Dodgers


Giants look to stop the bleeding vs. Dodgers

May 18, 2011

GIANTS (22-19) vs.
LA DODGERS (20-23)

Coverage begins at 6:30 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Rod Barajas believes when Clayton Kershaw is making his pitches, opponents don't have a chance.

This is usually the case when he faces the San Francisco Giants.

Kershaw looks to build on one of his best outings of the season and win his fourth straight start over the Giants as these NL West rivals meet Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium.

NEWS: MLB headlines

Kershaw (5-3, 2.75 ERA) allowed three hits and struck out a season-high 11 in seven innings in Friday's 4-3 win over Arizona. The left-hander, who has a 1.31 ERA in winning his three starts this month, threw 70 of his 106 pitches for strikes and retired the final 14 batters he faced.

"When he's throwing strike one, strike two, it's going to be a long night for whoever is facing him," Barajas said.

San Francisco knows this feeling.

Kershaw has thrown 13 2-3 shutout innings while striking out 16 in winning his two starts against the Giants this season, and has tossed 22 2-3 scoreless innings in winning his last three against them. In seven career starts versus San Francisco, Kershaw is 3-1 with a 1.09 ERA, yielding two or fewer runs six times.

Los Angeles (20-23) took three of four from the Giants to open the season. That series was overshadowed by two drunken Dodgers fans who brutally beat a Giants fan outside of Dodger Stadium. The victim, Bryan Stow, is still in critical condition with brain injuries, and was flown back to San Francisco on Monday after weeks of care in Los Angeles.

RELATED: Stow moves to S.F. hospital

The Giants (22-19) arrive in Los Angeles after Tuesday's 5-3 loss to Colorado. San Francisco was swept in the two-game series to fall one-half game back of the West-leading Rockies.

"If the season ended today, I supposed we'd be panicked," reliever Javier Lopez said. "But I mean, we've got three quarters (of the season) left, so I think we're OK."

One thing the Giants would like to remedy sooner than later is their hitting in RBI situations.

REWIND: Rockies rally to beat Giants, sweep short series

San Francisco has hit .129 (4 for 31) with runners in scoring position and left 24 men on base in the last four games. Aubrey Huff, batting .308 with four RBIs in seven games against the Dodgers this year, has stranded eight runners on base in the last three contests.

"We've got to get some guys clicking here. We need some production throughout the order," Bruce Bochy said. "We're a better hitting club than this. It's frustrating. We've got to take a little of the pressure off the pitchers."

Scheduled starter Matt Cain (3-2, 3.22) would probably second his manager's opinion.

Cain allowed two runs and seven hits in 7 2-3 innings in Thursday's 3-2 win over Arizona. It was the first victory in five starts for Cain, who had received five total runs of support in his previous four outings.

Cain, whose 3.73 run support average since 2007 is the worst in the majors, got plenty of offensive help in his season debut against Los Angeles. At Dodger Stadium on April 2, the right-hander allowed five hits in six innings of a 10-0 victory.

Cain, who is 3-0 with a 1.30 ERA in his last four starts in this series, has a 1.67 ERA in six outings at Chavez Ravine since 2008. Although Cain has pitched well against the Dodgers, Andre Ethier is batting .500 in 44 career at-bats against him.

Hardball Talk: One-on-one with Matt Cain

Similarly to the Giants, the Dodgers' offense is also struggling a bit.

Los Angeles defeated Milwaukee 3-0 on Tuesday after scoring two total runs in losing its previous three games.

Kings' second unit steals show from Fox-Ball, fuels victory over Lakers

Kings' second unit steals show from Fox-Ball, fuels victory over Lakers

SACRAMENTO -- The fans came to watch De’Aaron Fox and Lonzo Ball square off for the first times as professionals Wednesday night at Golden 1 Center. They ended up being treated to a breakout performance by Sacramento’s second team.

“It’s not all about Fox and Ball, it’s about Kings and Lakers,” Frank Mason said after another solid performance. “I’m just happy we got the win as a team.”

Coming into Wednesday night, the Sacramento Kings ranked first in the league in bench scoring at 48.1 points per game. The Los Angeles Lakers weren’t far behind, posting 40.6 a contest, good enough for fourth in the NBA.

Sacramento received solid contributions from almost every player that stepped on the floor, including 22 points, seven rebounds and seven assists from starter Zach Randolph. But the group that came off the bench put on a show, outscoring Los Angeles 67-38.

In his fourth game in a reserve role, Willie Cauley-Stein scored a game-high 26 points in 28 minutes, including 13 in the fourth quarter as the Kings pulled away. He drew a crowd around his locker during post game, but he was the direct beneficiary of some stellar play by others.

Mason and fellow rookie Bogdan Bogdanovic broke down the Lakers defense countless times and found Cauley-Stein for the poster dunk. According to the official scoresheet, nine of Cauley-Stein’s 10 made baskets were assisted, including five alley-oops from Bogdanovic.

“We talked about it yesterday when we were icing,” Cauley-Stein said of his Serbian guard. “We were both sitting in the cold tub and exactly what happened is what we were talking about.”

Cauley-Stein is gifted athletically and he’s extremely long. He was a star receiver in high school and he knows how to go up and get a ball.

“I think he realizes, (he’s) just got to get it up there and I’m going to go get it,” Cauley-Stein said of Bogdanovic.

Bogdanovic hit his first two 3-point attempts and it seemed to open the floor up for Sacramento. With defenders going over screens to defend the long ball, Bogdanovic used his dribble to get free.

When the Laker’s bigs stepped in to stop his dribble, Bogdanovic tossed the ball near the rim and Cauley-Stein finished with authority.

“It’s easy to play with Willie, because he can catch,” Bogdanovic said. “I didn’t pass perfectly those alley-oops, but he likes to be a little higher than usual.”

Both Bogdanovic and Mason set new career-highs in assists, finishing with seven dimes apiece off Dave Joerger’s bench. Bogdanovic dropped in 14 points and picked up two steals. Mason added 11 points and five rebounds.

The smallest player to step on the floor, Mason brings a physicality the Kings have lacked early in the season. Since earning rotational minutes four games ago, the 23-year-old is posting 9.8 points and 4.3 assists in 22 minutes a game.

“That’s who I am, that’s who I’ve always been,” Mason said when asked about his toughness. “I take a lot of pride in someone scoring on me and I play every possession like it’s game point.”

With the win, the Kings improved to 4-4 on their home floor and 5-13 overall this season. They’ll take Thanksgiving off, but return to practice Friday in preparation for the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday evening. They’ll need another big evening from the bench unit if they hope to build momentum going forward.

One thing is pretty clear about these Warriors after 2-2 road trip

One thing is pretty clear about these Warriors after 2-2 road trip

The Warriors are not ready to flip their seek-and-destroy switch. Not yet.

They’re closer to being ready than, say, their longtime rivals in Cleveland, but in going 2-2 on this four-game road trip the Warriors showed they are nowhere near full annihilation mode.

They went into Oklahoma City Wednesday night and, in gulping down a 108-91 loss on national TV, came away looking more vulnerable than they have in any game this season. The 17-point loss was their largest margin of defeat and this was awful close to being a wire-to-wire rout.

The Warriors defense, so splendid during the seven-game win streak they took out of town last week, was inconsistent throughout and downright atrocious by their standards as they concluded the trip.

Their offense, which had begun reducing the turnovers to acceptable levels, came apart like a pair of $3 sneakers.

Even their body language, aside from two well-deserved technical fouls, seemed to mostly vacillate between whispers and a whimpers.

“We didn’t have any focus or concentration,” coach Steve Kerr said. “The ‘millennials’ couldn’t lock in tonight. And their coach couldn’t do much either. Long night for us.”

These were not the Warriors who posted seven consecutive double-digit wins, and they’re certainly not the team that found its competitive blowtorches last April. They weren’t visible in this game, nor were they seen for most of this road trip.

This, ahem, regular-season road trip.

That’s the catch. Last April is when the playoffs got underway, and next April is when the 2018 playoffs begin. The time between now and then is for experimenting, fine-tuning and fighting through the monotonous joys of victory -- a factor on vivid display Wednesday night.

“We played with some decent energy,” Stephen Curry said. “We just didn’t play smart.”

“They completely outplayed us, outcoached us,” Kerr said. “It was just their night. It was absolutely their night. They brought the energy, they brought the juice, they brought the intelligence. And we didn’t bring any of that.”

The Warriors entered the game after studying video and stats that illustrated OKC’s ability to disrupt an offense. The Thunder leads the NBA in steals, deflections and -- this one punches the Warriors in the gut -- forcing turnovers.

The Warriors committed 22 giveaways, leading directly to 34 Thunder points.

“Thirty-four points off turnovers, you can’t win like that,” Draymond Green said.

“I’ve got to do a better job of getting them ready to play,” Kerr said. “We have a pretty loose, fun atmosphere around here. That’s great, but there are certain times where it’s like, ‘All right guys. Let’s throw it to our team. Let’s execute the play. Let’s remember the play.’ ”

Kevin Durant bemoaned the “silly turnovers” that were such a factor in the game, blaming it players rather than Kerr and his staff.

“For the most part he can’t control that type of stuff,” said Durant, whose four turnovers were second to Curry’s team-high six. “We’ve got to be better at keeping the ball in our hands, shooting more shots than our opponents and playing defense.”

Added Green: “We were pretty well-prepared. We just played bad.”

That happens to even the best of teams, a category in which the defending champions fit quite snugly. No team, not even the Chicago Bulls of the maniacally competitive Michael Jordan, is able to bring its best for 82 games a season.

The Warriors blew two 17-point leads, one in second quarter and another in the third, in losing at Boston.

They fell behind by 24 in the third quarter to the 76ers before coming back to win in Philadelphia before recovering the next night to submit their best performance of the trip in routing Brooklyn.

And in OKC, against a Thunder team that would seem to get their full attention, the Warriors were outhustled, outsmarted and played with considerably less fury.

“Right now, we’re just in a little bit of rut, where we’ve got to focus,” Kerr said. “And I know we will. We’ve done this many times in the past and bounced back. And we’ll bounce back. We need to lock in and tighten up everything.”

They will, eventually. It could happen next week, or next month, or after the calendar turns to 2018. They’ll turn it on and become the team of terror, punishing all before them. It might be April, though.

This road game indicated some truth, though, which is there will be games over the next four months in which they will lose the battle with themselves.