Which Sanchez will show up for the Giants?


Which Sanchez will show up for the Giants?

August 10, 2011

PITTSBURGH (55-60) vs.
GIANTS (64-53)

Coverage begins at noon on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- A night after their latest ugly offensive effort resulted in a shutout, the San Francisco Giants kept the Pittsburgh Pirates off the board and seemed to put their recent ineptitude at the plate behind them.

Pittsburgh's Jeff Karstens would certainly like to forget about his latest outing.

The NL's ERA leader prior to being blasted in his last start, Karstens tries to bounce back as the Pirates and Giants play their series finale Wednesday afternoon at AT&T Park.

Pittsburgh (55-60) snapped a 10-game losing streak with some strong pitching and timely hitting in a 5-0 win Monday in San Francisco, but reverted back Tuesday to its woeful form from recent weeks.

Chris Stewart and Aubrey Huff homered - the Giants' 17th and 18th consecutive solo shots since July 6 - to back seven dominant innings from Madison Bumgarner in a 6-0 victory that kept them one-half game ahead of Arizona atop the AL West.

RATTO: Giants' win trumps sideshow for a day

Stewart's homer was the first of the 29-year-old journeyman's major league career.

"Things like that do pull a club together," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.

San Francisco (64-53) hasn't put up five or more runs in consecutive contests since July 18 and 19, but might be due for a big day at the plate if Karstens (8-6, 3.05) pitches anything like he did Friday against San Diego.

The right-hander came into the game with an NL-low 2.49 ERA and hadn't allowed more than three earned runs in 18 consecutive starts since mid-April, but he flew past that mark early against the Padres. Karstens gave up nine runs and nine hits while lasting just 3 1-3 innings in a 15-5 loss.

"I couldn't pinpoint what I was doing wrong, but I put it all on my shoulders," he said. "I expect to be better than that."

Karstens is 3-0 with a 1.94 ERA over his last six road starts, though, and he may not have to worry about one of San Francisco's most dangerous bats. Carlos Beltran has sat the past two games with a strained right wrist. He hasn't been ruled out Wednesday, but Thursday's scheduled off day could allow him additional rest.

Beltran is 2 for 8 with a homer against Karstens, who gave up five runs - two earned - over 6 2-3 innings of a 5-2 home loss to the Giants on April 28.

San Francisco counters with Jonathan Sanchez (4-6, 4.10), who didn't fare well in his first start after missing six weeks due to left biceps tendinitis. The left-hander gave up five runs and seven hits - two homers - while lasting just 4 2-3 innings in a 9-2 loss to Philadelphia on Friday.

He hasn't made it through five innings in any of his last three outings and is walking 5.82 batters per nine innings - worst in the majors among pitchers with at least 17 starts - but Sanchez is still among the major league leaders in strikeouts per nine (9.16).

That could mean some easy outs against Pittsburgh. The Pirates have whiffed a major league-high 239 times since the All-Star break, including 165 since July 25 - 41 more than any other club during that span.

Sanchez hasn't allowed an earned run - he's given up four unearned - over his last 14 1-3 innings against Pittsburgh, and he's struck out 16. Prior to that, however, he was 0-1 with a 14.04 ERA in four appearances versus the Pirates.

The Pirates are hitting .178 (13 for 73) with 24 strikeouts and no homers against lefties since July 31.

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.”

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


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.