Momentum halted, Giants fall to D'Backs 7-2


Momentum halted, Giants fall to D'Backs 7-2

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Justifiably amped up for this one, Ian Kennedy took a couple of innings to find his command and his composure.Once settled and in control, the National League's wins leader stole the momentum right back for first-place Arizona.Kennedy outdueled Tim Lincecum for his 18th victory, Paul Goldschmidt homered and singled in a run and the NL West-leading Diamondbacks beat the San Francisco Giants 7-2 on Saturday night.A night after not a lot went right for the D-backs in seeing their nine-game winning streak snapped, they bounced back and kept the pressure on the reigning World Series champion Giants."We won two out of three here last time," Kennedy said. "Winning at anybody's place you get confidence. You don't want to think negatively not to get swept. Every series you want to win. Coming into their yard, it's going to be tough playing them."Aaron Hill and Gerardo Parra each hit RBI doubles as Arizona extended its division lead again to six games after losing the series opener 6-2. San Francisco figures it must win Sunday's series finale to keep alive any chance of defending the division crown and returning to the playoffs.Kennedy (18-4) became the NL's first 18-game winner and has victories in his last three starts. He allowed one run on five hits in seven innings, struck out six and walked two."Whenever I hear 18 wins, I think of a good bullpen and a good offensive team, timely hitting, really," Kennedy said.The Giants managed only a pair of sacrifice flies by Pablo Sandoval to back Lincecum (12-12).What had been billed as a marquee pitching matchup of staff aces looked to be just that in the early innings.Then Arizona's hitters began to find a groove against Lincecum, the two-time NL Cy Young winner handed his career-high 12th loss. The ace has lost his last two starts - with an 11.33 ERA over those two outings - and two of three."He just made some mistakes," manager Bruce Bochy said. "I thought he came out with good stuff and lost his command. They took advantage of it and kept chipping away at him. I think long innings were catching up with him. ... We just couldn't get a big hit to do some damage there. They got them and we didn't."Hill's second double of the game in the third made it 1-0. The ball died coming off the wall in left rather than rebounding and it fooled Pat Burrell, who later came out of the game with soreness in his troublesome right foot that caused him to miss 43 games on the disabled list. It's something Burrell has said he will deal with this month while he tries to play through the pain.San Francisco answered in the bottom half of the third on Sandoval's first sacrifice fly.Goldschmidt connected for his sixth home run in the fourth to put the D-backs ahead for good, then hit an RBI single in the fifth."His pitch count kind of got up," Goldschmidt said. "He's so good, you just have to try to capitalize on any mistakes you get, and if he falls behind try to make it hurt."Lincecum allowed back-to-back two-out walks to Justin Upton and Miguel Montero in the fifth, then received a mound visit from pitching coach Dave Righetti before Goldschmidt's single.Montero later extended his career-best hitting streak to 12 games with a base hit in the ninth.Carlos Beltran followed up a four-hit game a night earlier - in which he hit a two-run homer and an RBI single - with three more, including a double. He also drew a walk, giving him eight straight plate appearances reaching base safely.Beltran is 17 for 31 (.548) against Arizona this season.Still, the banged-up Giants failed to string together their first three-game winning streak since July 17-19 at San Diego. They will try Sunday for their first winning home series in seven sets since taking two of three from Milwaukee from July 22-24.They haven't won a series at all in their last five since taking two of three at Florida from Aug. 12-14.So, Sunday is a must-win with 23 games to go.Arizona beat Lincecum at sold-out AT&T Park for the second time in just over a month after a win against the Freak here on Aug. 2."Of course, this is disappointing," Lincecum said. "Obviously these two games are big for us ... and them throwing something like that isn't good for anybody. Tomorrow we have to come and get them."Lincecum allowed nine hits and five runs and struck out seven in five innings, his shortest start since also going five against San Diego on July 4.He reached 200 strikeouts for the fourth straight year, joining Amos Rusie (1890-93) in New York and Hall of Famer Juan Marichal (1963-66) in San Francisco as the only Giants to do so in four consecutive seasons.But six of his nine hits allowed went for extra bases."We got him in some situations and got some key hits," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "The team responded well to last night."NOTES: Aubrey Huff's second-inning single was his 10th hit in 25 at-bats vs. Kennedy. ... Injured Giants pitchers Barry Zito (right footankle) and Brian Wilson (elbow inflammation) both threw - Zito off the mound and Wilson on flat ground. ... Unlikely All-Star Ryan Vogelsong (10-5) pitches the series finale for the Giants on Sunday trying to end a three-start skid. Daniel Hudson (14-9) takes the mound for the D-backs looking to win his third straight outing. ... The mother of severely beaten Giants fan Bryan Stow threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Ann Stow was accompanied by family members of the Santa Cruz paramedic, who was beaten outside Dodger Stadium on opening day March 31. The family received a standing ovation on "Strike Out Violence Night." Home run king Barry Bonds, who has donated money to the college fund for Stow's two young children, was at the game in support and sitting with the family. ... SS Joe Panik, San Francisco's top draft pick this year, and OF prospect Gary Brown have received two of the club's five spots for the Arizona Fall League - joining September callup Brandon Crawford.

Reuben Foster ready for leadership role with 49ers


Reuben Foster ready for leadership role with 49ers

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers’ pass coverage from their linebackers has been a disaster this season.

But help is on the way, as rookie Reuben Foster is expected to return to action Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys after sustaining a high right ankle sprain just 11 plays into the season opener against the Carolina Panthers on Sept. 10.

“He’s been battling to get back,” 49ers Kyle Shanahan said on “49ers Game Plan,” which airs Saturday at 9 p.m. on NBC Bay Area (Ch. 3).

“He’s been hitting the rehab hard. We’ve had him out here for two weeks of practice, and I think he had his best week of practice. This week was much better than last week. I’m excited to get him out there.”

Last week, the 49ers cut veteran NaVorro Bowman, leaving Ray-Ray Armstrong and Brock Coyle as the starting inside linebackers. They were overmatched in the 49ers' 26-24 loss at Washington.

Quarterback Kirk Cousins looked no further than his running backs in the passing game, as Chris Thompson caught four passes for 105 yards and Samaje Perine had three receptions for 24 yards and a touchdown.

The 49ers expect Foster to provide an immediate upgrade with no expectations of perfection.

“It’s going to be his first time playing in a while,” Shanahan said. “I know there are going to be some bumps in the road. But I think he’ll have a big impact on our defense and our team overall.”

Foster will take over at Bowman’s middle linebacker position and be responsible for communicating the play calls and adjustments to the rest of the defense. Shanahan said Foster is ready to handle the important role.

“That’s the one thing that’s been the most impressive about him,” Shanahan said. “Everyone can see stuff on tape that’s impressive. But we didn’t know how much command he’d have until he got here. And from the first day of OTAs through training camp -- even walk-throughs when he was hurt -- when he gets in there, he speaks that language. He takes control and people listen to him.”

'Go make a play': Inside the Raiders game-deciding two-minute drill


'Go make a play': Inside the Raiders game-deciding two-minute drill

OAKLAND – The Raiders had a chance to beat the Kansas City Chiefs and blew it. The offense took possession with roughly six minutes remaining and went three-and-out.

The Raiders defense gave their teammates another chance. A Kansas City three-and-out insured that, though they were down six points and had just 2:25 to work with. The starting XI huddled on their 15-yard line, and quarterback Derek Carr surveyed his surroundings.

Familiar faces were set at every angle around him, guys he knew had come through in the clutch. This, he could tell, was a composed bunch. There was no fear or anxiety, no mental fatigue from four straight losses.

“Those moments can be emotional, but they aren’t for us,” left guard Kelechi Osemele said. “There’s an expectation, a belief that we’ll get the job done. We won’t be denied.”

Success breeds confidence. The Raiders finished seven fourth-quarter, game winning drives last year. They were ready to do it again.

“We’ve done this a couple of times together,” Carr said. “So when we took the field that last time, I looked at (center Rodney Hudson) and said, ‘Alright, let’s go.’ I looked at my wideouts and I didn’t have to say anything. They said, ‘We got you, just throw it up.’

“That makes the quarterback’s heart beat a little bit slower when you know you have guys that have your back.”

Derek Carr worked the ball downfield and completed a 31-30 victory with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree. That’s the CliffsNotes. The unabridged version was downright dramatic.

Carr has completed some improbable comebacks, but Thursday might earn the gold.

“Not even close,” Carr said. “Absolutely. I can’t even say it better. Yes. It sure was.”

Nothing came easy. Carr started the drive with a 15-yard pass to Amari Cooper, whose 39-yard reception a bit later bailed his team out of a 2nd-and-20 jam.

Jared Cook took over from there. His 13-yard catch converted a 4th-and-11. He later hauled in a 29-yard bomb that was originally called a touchdown but overturned on review. The catch was good, but Cook was officially down at the 1 with 18 seconds left.

“I thought I got it in,” Cook said. “Even after the replay I saw I thought I got it in. At least that’s what it looked like on the jumbotron. He didn’t touch me. It was a great ball by Derek. It was a play that boosted us and helped us get the win.”

A 10-second runoff – Cook was technically tackled in bounds – left eight ticks remaining. Down that close with so little time, Carr had simple instructions.

“At that moment, you just have to find a one-on-one with the coverages that they’re playing and give somebody a chance,” Carr said. “There’s nothing technical about it. At that point, I’m telling the guys in the huddle, ‘Look I’ve got to give somebody a chance now. Go make a play.’ They did a couple of times.”

The first went from Carr to Crabtree for a 1-yard touchown negated by offensive pass interference. Back it up.

The next pass fell incomplete, but Cook drew a defensive holding call as time expired. That set up an untimed down for the whole shebang.

Or so we thought.

Carr threw incomplete to Cordarrelle Patterson, who was also held.

The second untimed down went according to plan. Carr to Crabtree from two yards out. No flags. One game-deciding touchdown.

Crabtree was the primary target, though Carr still has reads to make.

“There’s a progression to it,” Carr said. “‘Crab’ is first and I was calling for that play. If there’s one thing about ‘Crab,’ it doesn’t matter what happens throughout the rest of the game, he always shows up.”

The entire offense typically does in the clutch, especially last year. Carr has led a baker’s dozen now, and is a lot more comfortable in those spots. This last one, however, made him think of his first.

Maybe because latest came on a Thursday night, against the Kansas City, exactly like his maiden comeback. The Raiders were 0-10 back in 2014, and Carr willed his professional victory with a short strike to James Jones, his only reliable receiver. He recalled it fondly, but shuttered at the stress and anxiety that used to accompany late-game drives.

“I remember the first two-minute drive we ever had or fourth quarter comeback was Thursday Night against the Chiefs, and there’s not a lot of familiar faces from that huddle,” Carr said. “Now moving forward the last couple of years, we’ve grown our culture and the guys that are here, our core guys. We can get the job done.”