Warriors

Giants salvage series with 8-1 win vs. D'Backs

506316.jpg

Giants salvage series with 8-1 win vs. D'Backs

Aug. 3, 2011BOX SCORE GIANTS VIDEOMLB PAGE MLB SCOREBOARD

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Orlando Cabrera had become a bit concerned as San Francisco's skid hit five games while its offense sputtered.Then, Cabrera started clicking with his new club and, suddenly, so did the rest of the Giants. And Ryan Vogelsong? He was his typical reliable self on the mound when it mattered.Vogelsong won his career-best sixth straight decision, Cabrera hit a two-run double and drove in three runs, and the Giants remained atop the NL West with an 8-1 victory against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday.
RELATED: MLB standings
"Man, finally. I was starting to worry," said Cabrera, who joined his ninth team since 2004 in a trade from Cleveland last week. "I'd like to believe if you win the World Series you have to hit at some point. It's basically the same team."Vogelsong (9-1), the bright spot in a standout rotation this year, helped the Giants snap a five-game losing streak in which they were outscored 31-8, including a 9-0 loss Sunday at Cincinnati, and had their division lead trimmed by four games in as many days.Carlos Beltran tripled among his three hits, scored twice and drove in a run in his best game since joining the Giants in a trade from the New York Mets last Thursday. San Francisco scored its most runs in a home game so far in 2011.
RATTO: Overachieving Giants give fans day of respite
Beltran and Pablo Sandoval each hit RBI singles in a four-run third against Jason Marquis (8-6), who lost his Arizona debut four days after being acquired in a trade with Washington. The Giants scored four more runs in the fifth.
URBAN: Giants' Beltran plays MJ for a day
"We had two big innings. That's great for us," manager Bruce Bochy said. "It's been a while since we've had innings like that. ... This game was probably our biggest game to date of the season, with the losing streak. We had to stop the bleeding."Marquis tossed a five-hit shutout of San Francisco on April 29, but this was Vogelsong's day all the way.The right-hander allowed one run on five hits, struck out seven and walked three in six innings to lower his NL-best ERA to 2.19. He also owns the lowest home ERA in the majors (1.30) and his run of 10 straight starts at AT&T Park giving up two or fewer runs is the longest such stretch by a Giants starter since Scott Garrelts did it in 12 consecutive outings from June 11, 1986, to July 16, 1989.Vogelsong has been the Giants' most reliable starter and hasn't lost since May 26 against Florida. He extended his career high for victories Wednesday with a 108-pitch performance in which he withstood deep counts for much of the afternoon. Not bad for a guy who just keeps improving after showing up at spring training as a non-roster invitee, getting promoted in mid-April, then becoming an improbable All-Star at age 33."I think it's a little too early to be pushing the panic button," Vogelsong said. "Obviously I knew we'd lost five in a row and we needed to win."After Zach Duke's seventh-inning RBI single got Arizona on the board and chased Vogelsong, Guillermo Mota entered and struck out the side in both the seventh and eighth for a career high-tying six Ks.Aubrey Huff's single in the fifth was the fourth straight hit to start the inning off Marquis, who left after giving up 10 hits and a season-high seven earned runs. Cody Ross had a two-run double moments later to spoil Brad Ziegler's first outing with Arizona since a trade from Oakland on Sunday.Bochy shook up his lineup in an effort to get things going, and it worked wonders.Andres Torres returned to the leadoff spot and center field. Beltran, slated to be the regular No. 3 hitter, batted cleanup and Sandoval moved up a spot to third. Ross drew two walks and drove in three runs in the No. 7 hole."We have good hitters in our lineup," Beltran said. "Sometimes we get caught up in trying to do too much. It happens to every team."The Giants were outscored 11-3 in first two games of the series as Arizona moved into a tie for first in the West heading into the finale, but they denied the D-backs the chance to move into sole possession of first place for the first time since a four-day stretch atop the standings that ended June 25."In the grand scheme of things, we got a lot accomplished on the road trip," D-backs center fielder Chris Young said. "We played good baseball and got a lot closer in the race. We just need to keep pushing forward from there."San Francisco's losing streak matched its longest this season. Giants starters were 0-4 with a 6.51 ERA during the skid, making Vogelsong's outing all the more important.Sandoval put the Giants - who had gone 12 straight games without scoring more than four runs - ahead in the third with an RBI single and Beltran followed with one of his own during as sequence of four straight base hits and an RBI groundout by Cabrera off Marquis.D-backs slugger Justin Upton struck out three times and had his 14-game hitting streak snapped.Notes: Mota last struck out six in a game during a three-inning outing on May 29, 2003, with the Dodgers. ... The Giants are 12-5 on Wednesdays. ... San Francisco LHP Madison Bumgarner tries to bounce back Thursday night against the Phillies and ace Cliff Lee after lasting just four innings his last time out, allowing five earned runs on seven hits with three walks and four strikeouts. It will be his first regular-season matchup with Philadelphia after starting Game 4 of the NL championship series vs. the Phillies and also making a relief outing in Game 6. ... The Diamondbacks head home for a 10-game stay at Chase Field but get Thursday off before opening a weekend series with the Dodgers. LHP Joe Saunders starts Friday night for his second straight start vs. L.A. after beating the Dodgers on July 31. He will try for his third straight win overall. Saunders has had quality starts in eight of his last nine outings, going 5-2 with a 2.30 ERA.

With lofty win total unlikely this year, here's a number the Warriors can chase

durant-kerr-ap.jpg
AP

With lofty win total unlikely this year, here's a number the Warriors can chase

OAKLAND -- Getting to 73 wins is impossible for the Warriors, and the pursuit of it never entered their minds.

Reaching 69 wins, their average in three seasons under coach Steve Kerr, is highly improbable.

Even winning 67 games, the lowest total under Kerr, is extremely unlikely.

There is, however, a number the Warriors are aiming for that also happens to be within their grasp -- but only if they can fight through the regular-season malaise and break an unhealthy tendency.

They can get to 35 victories at Oracle Arena. Currently 16-6 at home, the Warriors would have to go 19-0 to reach 35, and it’s possible insofar as they are less than two years removed from posting an NBA-record 54 consecutive wins at home.

Can a team that once went 14 months without losing at Oracle summon a three-month stretch of perfection at home?

The schedule invites the possibility, but it’s still up to the Warriors and how they cope with tug of three long seasons and that tendency to float a bit in front of their home fans, two factors that have had more effect at home than on the road.

“In general, the appropriate fear we always talk about, it’s there on the road for most games and it’s not there as much at home,” Kerr conceded Monday.

Kevin Durant used different phrasing but echoed the comments of the coach.

“You tend to relax a bit when you’re at home because you’ve got your home crowd,” he acknowledged. “You’re just comfortable in that situation. You can go home and go to sleep in your own bed after the game. So you relax a bit.

“On the road, it just feels like this is the last game of your career. It just feels that way, especially when you’re playing a tough opponent and somewhere with a crowd that’s going to be really, really into it.”

Having gone 39-2, 39-2 and 36-5 over the last three seasons, the Warriors are assured of having their worst home record under Kerr. Still, 35 is not impossible.

The drop is not unanticipated, as Kerr experienced something similar as a member of the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s, when they won three straight championships as their regular-season wins steadily dropped, from 72 to 69 to 62.

“Where it has truly been the most tangible and palpable is home games against lesser opponents,” Kerr said. “We’ve lost six. Maybe two of those are playoff teams.

“We didn’t lose those games the last the last three years. We dominated the home floor. That’s where it really shows.”

The Warriors have lost at home to the Rockets, Pistons, Kings, Nuggets, Hornets and Clippers. Only Houston is a playoff lock. Detroit, Denver and the Clippers are on the fringe of the postseason race. Charlotte is a longshot, Sacramento a no-shot.

The Warriors, in every home loss, have started drowsily or played too carelessly or were self-destructive enough to give back a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter.

“This is the first year in my four years where we’ve lost a lot of home games that we shouldn’t,” Kerr said. “That just points to emotional fatigue. Trying to get up for 82 games is a difficult thing, especially in Year 4 of a quest to get back to The Finals.”

Coming off a successful road trip during which they won four of five games, the Warriors this week face the Knicks, Timberwolves and Celtics -- the latter two being playoff locks.

A home sweep is difficult, of course, but hardly inconceivable. And if the Warriors can pull that off, they’d have only four remaining home games against teams fighting for a top-four playoff slot: the Thunder and Spurs twice each.

Oklahoma City appears to be getting their act together. The Spurs, while still formidable, are starting to look like a team in decline.

They’re also the two teams most likely to get the full attention of the Warriors, who began the week by sitting through video of their last three games, during which they committed numerous hideous errors.

The message: Their unforced mistakes are the surest route to defeat.

“There are key points of the year where we have to hit the reset button in terms of our priorities,” Kerr said. “Right now is one of those times. This is an important week for us. We need to take care of the ball. We need to be smart and make good decisions. If we do that, we’re really, really hard to beat.”

Carr excited to work with Gruden: 'I want him to be tough on me'

chucky-ap.jpg
AP

Carr excited to work with Gruden: 'I want him to be tough on me'

Jon Gruden has been interviewed several times since becoming Raiders head coach. Quarterback Derek Carr hasn’t listened to most of those sessions, and certainly doesn’t seek them out.

One landed in Carr’s inbox recently, and something Gruden said really resonated.

Gruden’s message, paraphrased: If Derek Carr is not successful, then I’ve failed as a coach.

There are two comments in that one. Gruden considers Carr extremely talented, and he’s taking responsibility for unlocking the quarterback's vast potential.

Gruden will be hands on in Carr’s development, with all the coaching intensity and fire and eyebrow raises that have become Gruden’s signature.

“He’s going to demand of me. He’s going to push me,” Carr said on this week’s episode of the Raiders Insider Podcast, which will drop Tuesday morning (Subcribe right here). “He’s going to make me be the best version of myself.”

Carr had a direct answer to skeptics wondering aloud whether he can thrive under Gruden’s particular coaching style.

“I want him to be tough on me,” Carr said. “For anyone who thinks I want him to be a different way has no clue about me or how I play football or how I prepare to play this game. I don’t need to tell stories about how I prepare or manage myself.

“(Jon) and I are going to get along great. I hope that he demands of me. I hope he’s hard on me. I don’t need to know he loves me. He has already told me that about 20 times. I appreciate that and we’ll be friends forever, but I know he’ll be demanding and tell me what I need to do. Let’s go fix problems that I have and let’s do what I need to do to win championships. Hopefully that will give people some insight and hopefully that’s the story that gets out, because that’s the truth.”

Carr met his new head coach briefly before his introductory press conference, but has known Gruden since filming the Gruden QB Camp segment back in 2014. They got along great then, and in each interaction since.

“We have so much more in common that people realize,” Carr said. “I think it would blow some people’s minds. Him and I are very similar in the way we go about our business and how we carry ourselves. It’s an exciting time.”

Carr’s excited to have some stability in his football life. The three-time Pro Bowl quarterback will start his fifth NFL season with his fourth head coach, fourth go-round with an offensive coordinator and third offensive scheme. Gruden signed a 10-year contract. OC Greg Olson signed a four-year pact. They’ll be here a while, and Carr’s excited about that.

“It’s going to be really nice,” Carr said. “To know Jon signed on for a 10 years and (Olson) signed on for a long time shows me a couple of things. No. 1: that they believe in me. I don’t think Coach Gruden would’ve quit his day job, which I’m thankful he did. To get (Olson) out of a good spot in L.A (with the Rams), shows that they believe in me and that’s awesome. And, No. 2: I’m going to have two people I can talk to in a different language for years to come. We can grow within the relationship, and hopefully we’ll all ride off together. It’s set up that way right now, and we have a lot of work to do to reach that point.”