A's take series in K.C. with 5-2 win over Royals


A's take series in K.C. with 5-2 win over Royals

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) When Oakland right-hander Tyson Ross took the mound against Kansas City on Sunday, he had no idea he would be called upon to execute a defensive play he'd never even seen before, let alone practiced.In the second inning of what turned into a 5-2 victory for the Athletics, Jeff Francoeur singled and headed for second when Eric Hosmer hit a hard grounder to second baseman Mark Ellis. He knocked the ball down and tried to scoop it to shortstop Cliff Pennington for the force at second, but the ball sailed into no man's land between second and third.Francoeur hesitated for a couple of seconds, then kept going as third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff ran down the ball.That left third base uncovered. But Ross alertly bolted for the bag and got there just in time to stretch out his 6-foot-6 frame and make the tag for a highly unusual 4-5-1 putout."I did everything in my power to get over there," Ross said. "It was a foot race and I'm not too fast. I saw Kouz get the ball. Him and Francoeur kind of looked at each other and I looked and realized I've got to bust my tail over there. Kouz gave me a good feed and I'm just lucky I'm tall and was able to cut him off short."It wasn't the sort of play a guy can practice."I've never even seen that play before," Ross said. "Kouz threw it right where I needed it to be."Using his length, Ross barely got to Francoeur in time to make the tag."I don't know any other pitcher who can make that play," Oakland manager Bob Geren said. "He closed like a horse in a horse race. I had a feeling he was going to get the out, but I was just hoping he didn't hurt himself. It's a dangerous play for a pitcher, but the athleticism kicks in."Kouzmanoff and Kurt Suzuki each homered and Conor Jackson had three hits to help Ross earn his first win in four starts.Ross (2-2), who moved into the rotation last month when Dallas Braden went on the disabled list, went six innings and gave up two runs on six hits, with three walks and four strikeouts. He has not allowed a home run in 28 2-3 innings."I thought he pounded the zone really well the first half of the game for sure," Geren said. "He had good movement. He makes for a tough at-bat for the opposition."Brian Fuentes pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his ninth save in 11 opportunities as the A's took the series two games to one."He's darn good," Royals manager Ned Yost said about Ross. "That kid threw strikes, banged strikes with quality stuff. He had a nasty slider, fastball up to 96 (mph) with some tail and some sink to it. Their pitching staff is pretty formidable."The A's grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first after third baseman Wilson Betemit's throwing error let Coco Crisp reach base to start the game. Daric Barton followed with a double. Jackson's RBI single made it 1-0 and then Josh Willingham brought home Barton with a fielder's choice grounder.Kouzmanoff's home run off winless starter Jeff Francis with two outs in the sixth put the A's on top 3-0. Suzuki added a solo shot in the ninth off Louis Coleman.Francis (0-4) was charged with three runs and eight hits in 6 1-3 innings. He walked one and struck out one."Francis threw the ball real well," Yost said. "He struggled a little bit in the first inning, but we didn't help his cause defensively."Ross took a 3-0 lead into the sixth but got in trouble with a throwing error when he tried to scoop Melky Cabrera's infield single to first.Cabrera wound up on second and scored on Eric Hosmer's two-out double, the rookie first baseman's first major league RBI. Betemit walked and then, on a bang-bang play, Hosmer raced home on a single by Mitch Maier and scored a split-second before Betemit was tagged out at second on a strong throw from right fielder David DeJesus.Blake Wood gave up a single to Ellis and walked Pennington before Tim Collins came out of the bullpen and gave up an RBI single to Crisp with his first pitch in the eighth, making it 4-2.Hosmer's double was a line drive that bounced off the top of the wall in right-center.For a second, it looked as though the heralded rookie slugger was going to get his first major league homer."I thought it had a chance," he said. "But the wind was blowing pretty hard right-to-left. I'm just glad we got the run in and started to make a little comeback there."It was the first home series loss of the year for the Royals, who had three runners thrown out on the bases.NOTES: It was the 43rd anniversary of Catfish Hunter's perfect game for Oakland. Only 6,298 fans were on hand to see Hunter beat the Twins 4-0 with the AL's first perfect game in 46 years. ... Braden, on the DL with a sore left shoulder, is scheduled to meet with specialists in Florida and New York this week. ... After committing 27 errors in their first 29 games, the A's were spotless in five straight until Ross' bad scoop in the sixth. ... Ross has not allowed a home run since June 20, 2010. ... Kansas City DH Billy Butler got his first day off this season.

Limping Love leads Stanford to Big Game win over Cal


Limping Love leads Stanford to Big Game win over Cal


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.


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.


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


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.”