Raiders

Lincecum out, Zito in as Giants open Philly series

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Lincecum out, Zito in as Giants open Philly series

July 26, 2011

GIANTS (59-43) vs.
PHILADELPHIA (64-37)

Coverage begins at 4 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area

UPDATE: Lincecum out with flu symptoms, Zito to start

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- The San Francisco Giants ended the defending champion Philadelphia Phillies' season with a six-game victory in last year's NL championship series, en route to a World Series title of their own.

With Tim Lincecum and Vance Worley on the mound for the series opener Tuesday night in Philadelphia, the rematch between these division leaders becomes even more intriguing.

The Giants' 3-2 victory in Game 6 in Philadelphia set the stage for the franchise's first World Series title since moving from New York to San Francisco prior to the 1958 season. Now set to face each other for the first time since, the NL East-leading Phillies (64-37) own baseball's best record while the Giants (59-43) have a four-game cushion atop the NL West.

URBAN: Giants' five differences from 2010

San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy is aware of the hype, even if this three-game set won't determine the final standings.

"Sure, there's going to be some added interest in this series, but there's a lot of baseball left," Bochy told the Giants' official website. "We've got to play our best ball with the team they have (in Philadelphia) -- (leading) their division, (having) the best record. When you go in there, you better be on top of your game."

Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino is also set on bigger goals.

"I don't walk around saying I want revenge on these guys," he said. "Revenge would be bringing the trophy back to Philly."

That quest continues against Lincecum (8-8, 2.90 ERA), who pitched one-third of an inning in Game 6 of the NLCS after taking the loss in Game 5.

SIEGEL: Lincecum offers 'bulletin board material'

The left-hander has a 1.84 ERA over his last seven starts, but only a 3-3 record to show for it as he's received seven total runs of support in those outings. His tough luck continued Wednesday, when he limited the Dodgers to one run in seven innings but got charged with a 1-0 loss.

The Giants, winners of 9 of their last 12 including a 2-1 victory over Milwaukee on Sunday, haven't produced much offense for any pitcher of late. San Francisco has scored eight runs over its last four games and is the major leagues' only team without a player with at least 10 home runs.

RELATED: Giants vs. Philadelphia stat pack
Worley (6-1, 2.02) has been just as good as Lincecum lately, and he'll look to keep the Giants' offense in check. He's allowed either one earned run or none in eight of his 10 starts, and has won his last four while sporting a 0.99 ERA. He allowed one run in eight innings of a victory over the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday.

The 23-year-old rookie right-hander wasn't in Philadelphia's star-studded rotation at the beginning of the season, but he's stepped up after injuries to Roy Oswalt and Joe Blanton.

The Phillies, who are 10-2 in Worley's starts, look to bounce back after having their five-game winning streak snapped in a 5-4 loss to San Diego on Monday, when their No. 1-4 hitters - Jimmy Rollins, Michael Martinez, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard - went a combined 2 for 13.

CSNPhilly: Five differences between Phillies of last year

Howard is hitting .171 since the All-Star break, but he's 6 for 19 with two doubles, three walks and three homers lifetime against Lincecum. However, Victorino (4 for 21) and Utley (2 for 20) haven't fared as well versus the two-time NL Cy Young winner.

If the Phillies get Lincecum out of the game, they'll have to contend with a Giants bullpen which has a 0.28 ERA since the break. San Francisco relievers have allowed one hit in 13 2-3 scoreless innings over the last six games.

BERNSTEIN: Move over Dodgers? Philling a rivalry void

These teams split six regular-season meetings in 2010.

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.”

Kevin Durant takes shot at Zaza Pachulia while center's kid play one-on-one

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USATSI

Kevin Durant takes shot at Zaza Pachulia while center's kid play one-on-one

Kevin Durant doesn't take it easy on anyone. Not even the children of teammate Zaza Pachulia.

After practice on Saturday in Philadelphia, Pachulia's two sons, Davit and Saba, were playing one-on-one at the facility the Warriors were using. Kevin Durant filmed one sequence and posted it to his Instagram Story.

One of Pachulia's sons grabbed the ball and drives around the other without dribbling. As he makes the shot, Durant offers his commentary and took a shot at the Warriors starting center.

"That's a travel. Such a travel. Same thing your pops do," Durant said, taking a shot at Pachulia.

Durant also had another message for Pachulia written on the video.

"Yo, @zazapachulia at some you have to teach the boys how to play off the bounce," Durant wrote.