NCAA

Lincecum looks for more dominance vs. D'backs

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Lincecum looks for more dominance vs. D'backs

May 10, 2011

ARIZONA (15-18) vs.
GIANTS (18-16)
GIANTS COMMUNITY FUND RING RAFFLE

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

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- The first six weeks of the season weren't easy for the San Francisco Giants, but the defending World Series champions are hoping they finally have some momentum after finishing off their first sweep.

Having Tim Lincecum on the mound for the opener of a home series with Arizona could be a great recipe for the start of another.

NEWS: Torres, DeRosa in Giants' Tuesday lineup

Coming off perhaps his sharpest outing of the season, Lincecum faces the Diamondbacks on Tuesday night looking to give the Giants their 16th win in 20 meetings.

San Francisco (18-16) hasn't exactly come roaring out of the gate in defense of the franchise's first championship in 56 years, but it's above .500 despite outscoring only San Diego and Minnesota.

Pitching keyed the Giants' World Series run, and that's again been the team's strength this season. San Francisco starters posted a 1.86 ERA in a three-game weekend series against Colorado, capped by 6 1-3 innings of one-hit ball from Ryan Vogelsong in a 3-0, sweep-completing victory Sunday.

REWIND: Ross powers Giants to sweep of Rockies

San Francisco has won five of six despite totaling 21 runs.

"It's early but it's good to get a sweep," manager Bruce Bochy said. "There's so much baseball left. This is going to be a battle but we certainly helped our cause by coming in here and winning some games."

The Giants have certainly had the Diamondbacks' number in recent years, winning 13 of 18 in both 2009 and 2010. San Francisco took two of three at Chase Field from April 15-17 and has outscored Arizona 93-61 in going 15-4 in the last 19 matchups.

Lincecum (3-3, 2.47 ERA) will try to keep it going after an outstanding effort in New York on Wednesday. After a pair of so-so starts in losses to Atlanta and Washington, the two-time Cy Young Award winner bounced back against the Mets, holding them to five hits over seven innings and striking out 12 in a 2-0 win.

The right-hander surpassed Christy Mathewson for the most double-digit strikeout efforts in team history with 29 - three of which have come in his last six starts.

"Terrific job," Bochy said. "He's one of those special guys, when he's had to turn it up a notch he can do it."

Lincecum has typically turned it up against the Diamondbacks (15-18), though he was just 2-1 with a 4.13 ERA in five meetings last season. He has gone 4-1 with a 1.89 ERA in eight career starts versus Arizona at AT&T Park, with four double-digit strikeout games.

Justin Upton is 9 for 28 (.321) against Lincecum, but Stephen Drew (.200), Chris Young (.158) and Miguel Montero (.156) have had far less success.

With Lincecum on the hill, the Diamondbacks can't afford to fall behind early, something that's consistently plagued them. Arizona gave up four first-inning runs in a 4-3 loss to San Diego on Sunday and has allowed 30 runs in the opening inning this season.

Ian Kennedy (3-1, 3.80) has given up four runs in the first this season, but none of those have come in his last four outings. He's posted a 1.93 ERA during that stretch, and gave up two runs over six innings of a 3-2, 11-inning win over Colorado on Thursday.

NOTES
Kennedy was 1-2 with a 2.67 ERA in five starts versus San Francisco last season. Catcher Buster Posey, in a 2-for-21 slump, is 5 for 11 against Kennedy. ... San Francisco has won 15 of its last 19 games against Arizona, including two of the three matchups between the clubs this season. ... The Diamondbacks have alternated wins and losses over their last six games (WLWLWL). Arizona is 1-6 in its last seven road contests. ... The Giants have won five of their last six games and will be looking to extend their current winning streak to four in a row. ... Ian Kennedy is 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA in his last four starts. Arizona has lost each of Kennedy's last four starts against San Francisco. ... Tim Lincecum has won each of his last two starts against the Diamondbacks and has seven wins in his career against them -- the second-most wins in his career against any opponent (8 vs. Colorado). ... Chris Young is tied with Lance Berkman for the most extra-base hits among NL players this season with 19. Young has failed to record a hit in each of his last three games, going 0-for-14 in those contests.

Limping Love leads Stanford to Big Game win over Cal

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AP

Limping Love leads Stanford to Big Game win over Cal

BOX SCORE

PALO ALTO — Bryce Love rushed for 101 yards and a touchdown despite missing most of the fourth quarter after aggravating an ankle injury, and No. 20 Stanford held off California 17-14 on Saturday to keep its Pac-12 title hopes alive.

K.J. Costello completed 17 of 26 passes for 185 yards and a touchdown, Ben Edwards made a key interception in the fourth quarter and Cameron Scarlett rushed for 49 yards on the final drive in place of Love to help the Cardinal (8-3, 7-2 Pac-12) milk the clock and win its eighth straight Big Game.

Stanford can earn a spot in the Pac-12 championship game against USC but needs some help.

The Cardinal can get there if No. 15 Washington State loses to No. 16 Washington next week. If the Cougars — who beat Stanford 24-21 on Nov. 4 — beat the Huskies, they get the nod because of the tiebreaker.

The nation's leading rusher going into the game, Love was held in check most of the game by Cal's defense and sat out the final 11:43 after re-injuring his ankle that has bothered him for the past month. He did stay on the field long enough to score a 57-yard touchdown — his 11th run of 50 yards or longer this season.

Scarlett, Love's primary backup all season, also came up big for Stanford. Scarlett rushed for 61 yards, the majority coming on the Cardinal's last drive that took the final 7:25. Scarlett's 2-yard gain on 4th-and-1 kept the drive going.

Patrick Laird ran for 153 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries while Ross Bowers passed for 182 yards and a touchdown for California. The Golden Bears (5-6, 2-6) need a win in their final game to become bowl eligible in coach Justin Wilcox's first season.

THE TAKEAWAY

California: The Bears made the Cardinal sweat and kept the game a lot closer than many thought possible. Wilcox's defense did a good job bottling up Love most of the game but couldn't stop Scarlett on the final drive which was huge. Still, there are plenty of positives for Cal to take out of this one.

Stanford: It wasn't the best game for David Shaw's team but the Cardinal gritted it out and held off a pesky Cal team that had plenty to play for. The conference title can still happen but before that Stanford has a pretty big game coming up against Notre Dame.

UP NEXT

California: Ends the regular season at UCLA on Saturday.

Stanford: The Cardinal stay home and will host No. 9 Notre Dame on Saturday. Stanford has won the last two and six of last eight against the Irish.

Raiders counting heavily on lightning rod CB against Patriots

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AP

Raiders counting heavily on lightning rod CB against Patriots

MEXICO CITY – The Raiders cornerback David Amerson didn’t practice all week, but ran just well enough to be considered “doubtful” for Sunday’s game against New England.

Translation: Outlook for Sunday is not good, but Jack Del Rio’s fingers remained crossed real, real tight. The Raiders hope there’s a way he can be active against Tom Brady’s buzz saw attack, because their cover men are beat up.

Amerson has missed two straight with a foot injury, and has dealt with injury all year. Gareon Conley’s season officially ended Monday, when he was placed on season-ending injured reserve. Antonio Hamilton and Demetrius McCray were already there.

Reggie McKenzie hasn’t reached out for reinforcements. That leaves TJ Carrie, Dexter McDonald and Sean Smith to play cornerback. Carrie’s been the rock, a sure tackler who hasn’t made spectacular plays but doesn’t give them up. McDonald has been forced into action, with holes let in his game.

Smith should be the No. 1 guy in this group, the steadying presence on the outside. That hasn’t been the case this year, where he lost a starting job in training camp and sub-package snaps during the season, only to have injuries to Conley and Amerson bring him in the fray.

He’s also been dealing with felony assault and battery charges in Los Angeles stemming from a July 4 incident in Pasadena.

Smith has been a lightning rod for fan criticism, a byproduct of his $9.5 million salary this year and explosive plays allowed early in the year.

If there’s an anvil weighing on his mind, teammates insist you’d never know.

“We’re human at the end of the day,” Amerson said. “You feel it, but you have to find a way to remain even keel and professional and do your job well.”

Smith will be counted on heavily Sunday against New England, especially if Amerson can’t play as expected. He has proven vulnerable to speed without help and proper disruption at the line of scrimmage, though that hasn’t been an issue lately because the Utah alum has recovered well after a rough start.

He got pulled after struggling against Vernon Davis in Washington. He didn’t play against the Chargers after giving up two huge plays to Baltimore the week before.

Amerson originally sprained his foot in Week 7 against Kansas City – he hasn’t played since – and Smith was called upon to respond. He wasn’t targeted in that game, and has been strong in coverage ever since.

Smith has allowed three catches for 12 yards in four targets over the last two games. The ninth-year veteran insists he wasn’t doing anything markedly different, and had zero interest in patting himself on the back for recent jobs well done.

“I’m not,” Smith said. “I’m out there doing my job, man, the best way I can.”

Smith says the off-field distractions during a roller-coaster season, one of his career’s most trying yet, haven’t impacted him much

“Nope. Not at all,” Smith said. “As long as I wake up a Raider, I’m all right. I’ll deal with whatever happens. I’ll always be there for my guys, and I’ll do whatever it takes to help our team win.”

Raiders defensive backs laud Smith’s locker room presence, saying he’s an excellent teammate. Cornerbacks in general must have a short memory when things go bad, to refocus and prevent that from happening again. Smith apparently has that in spades.

“I know how things go, especially when you have a target on your back,” Amerson said. “Sometimes you get hit with the perfect pass and you give up some plays. You can’t do anything about that but take advantage of the next opportunity. Sean’s a good player, and he definitely has that mindset.”

Smith will lend experience to this big game, something the Raiders need after suffering so many injuries.

"It sucks that so many of us have gone down,” Smith said. "You want to have all your guys out there, but that’s the NFL. Injuries happen. As long as everybody comes to work and acts like a pro, we’ll be all right. We all have a job to do. We all would like to start, but you have to be ready when your number’s called.”