Warriors

Zito returns triumphant; Giants extend win streak

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Zito returns triumphant; Giants extend win streak

June 28, 2011BOXSCORE GIANTSVIDEOMLBPAGE MLBSCOREBOARD

CHICAGO (AP) If Barry Zito is going to permanently reclaim a spot in the Giants' rotation, he'll need more starts like this.Zito returned from the disabled list and threw seven strong innings, and the San Francisco Giants beat the Chicago Cubs 6-3 on Tuesday night for a sweep of a day-night doubleheader.
URBAN: Zito shows Giants his hammer is strong
"I was trying to execute and things worked out for the most part," Zito said. "We scored some runs and played great defense."In the first game, Ryan Vogelsong, who replaced the injured Zito in San Francisco's rotation, improved to 6-1 as the Giants won 13-7.
RECAP: Giants break out for 13 in Gm. 1 win over Cubs
Zito (1-1) pitched for the first time since leaving his start on April 16 with a right foot sprain. He allowed four hits and two runs, leading the Giants to their seventh straight win."It's a big game for us to come back and win the second one, but for Z's first start back, I thought it was a great outing," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.Brian Wilson got his 24th save.Nate Schierholtz had three hits and two RBIs to pace the San Francisco offense, and Brandon Crawford added two hits and two RBIs. Crawford also saved a run with a highlight reel stop of an Aramis Ramirez grounder in the third."When there are runners on scoring position and two outs, we're told to lay out and keep everything in front," Crawford said. "In that situation, I was trying to get to anything I could and get rid of it as soon as I could."Rodrigo Lopez (0-2) - pressed into starting duty after throwing out of the bullpen for most of the season - allowed eight hits and four runs in 4 2-3 innings for the Cubs."He threw the ball good," Cubs manager Mike Quade said. "He did really well, I thought."Pat Burrell and Aaron Rowand each drove in three runs for the Giants in the opener 13-7.
GIANTS INSIDER GALLERY: Zito helps Giants sweep DHIn the second game, Lou Montanez hit a two-run homer for the Cubs, who were held to five hits. Ramirez also homered for Chicago.Zito was sharp early, striking out Reed Johnson to start the game and retiring first six Cubs."Change of speeds is so important and to be able to get a feel for all the pitches early, that's big deal," Zito said.Alfonso Soriano led off the third inning with a single. Montanez followed with his first Cubs homer - 11 years and 22 days after he was drafted by the team in the first round of the 2000 draft.Montanez had four big league homers during his time with the Orioles in 2008 and 2009, but he played 1,076 games in the minors after being selected by the Cubs. His blast to left put the Cubs up 2-1.Zito shut down the Cubs after Montanez's homer for his longest outing since August 6, 2010.The Giants scored in the second when Cody Ross led off with a double and scored on Schierholtz's single.Lopez struggled in the Giants' five-run fifth.The first run had a controversial call. With Andres Torres on third, Pablo Sandoval hit a broken-bat fly into center. Johnson charged in to make the catch and with his momentum going toward the plate, he made a perfect throw to catcher Geovany Soto, who tagged the sliding Torres.Home plate umpire Tim McClelland initially called Torres out, but when the ball trickled out, the call was changed."I got the ball, applied the tag, took my mask off and tried to flip the ball to my bare hand to show it," Soto said. "As I flipped the ball, I dropped it. I saw the play on video and I still think he was out, but the umpire was behind me so it was tough for him to judge. Tough break right there."Quade charged onto the field, arguing that Soto held the ball long enough for the out. The umpires consulted at the mound, but the call wasn't changed and the game was tied at 2."I think that changed the whole game," Lopez said. "I saw the replay already and of course I think he was out. The Giants are probably saying different, but that was a play that changed the game. I started getting tired after all the energy I used on the last play."Lopez allowed back-to-back singles to Aubrey Huff and Ross, and was removed after throwing 96 pitches.Reliever John Grabow's first pitch to Schierholtz was lined for a single, scoring Huff. Crawford doubled, scoring Ross and Schierholtz. Eli Whiteside singled in Crawford. The first four batters to face Grabow reached."It was tight game up to that point, a close play at the plate," Bochy said. "After that, it just got contagious and it's nice to get the big inning."In the first game, the Giants' offense had season-best totals in runs (13) and hits (18).Burrell slammed his seventh homer, Miguel Tejada also had three hits and Rowand had a three-run double.Vogelsong (6-1) got the win despite allowing a season-high six runs - three earned - and matched his high for the season with four walks in five innings.Cubs starter Doug Davis (1-7) lasted just 4 1-3 innings, during which he gave up 12 hits and 10 runs.Carlos Pena hit a two-run homer, walked and scored two runs for the Cubs. Blake DeWitt had two singles and three RBIs, and Koyie Hill added a solo homer for Chicago.Even after Vogelsong's shaky outing, his ERA is still a dazzling 2.09 on the season. Now that Zito's back and fellow starter Jonathan Sanchez is on the disabled list, both pitchers will be in the rotation for the time being. Zito saw his outing on Tuesday as a building block."I was glad they stuck with me," Zito said. "I was able to go back out there and get my pitch count over a 100, start conditioning my arm and get ready to do that consistently."Notes: Cubs manager Mike Quade got a nice pregame surprise when it was announced that Giants manager Bruce Bochy had added him to the NL staff for the All-Star game, to be played July 12 in Phoenix. Quade replaced former Washington manager Jim Riggleman, who resigned last week. ... The Cubs demoted rookie utility player DJ Lemahieu between games, sending him to Triple-A Iowa. They recalled reliever Marcos Mateo from Iowa to bolster a tired bullpen that worked 4 2-3 innings in Tuesday's opener.

With lofty win total unlikely this year, here's a number the Warriors can chase

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AP

With lofty win total unlikely this year, here's a number the Warriors can chase

OAKLAND -- Getting to 73 wins is impossible for the Warriors, and the pursuit of it never entered their minds.

Reaching 69 wins, their average in three seasons under coach Steve Kerr, is highly improbable.

Even winning 67 games, the lowest total under Kerr, is extremely unlikely.

There is, however, a number the Warriors are aiming for that also happens to be within their grasp -- but only if they can fight through the regular-season malaise and break an unhealthy tendency.

They can get to 35 victories at Oracle Arena. Currently 16-6 at home, the Warriors would have to go 19-0 to reach 35, and it’s possible insofar as they are less than two years removed from posting an NBA-record 54 consecutive wins at home.

Can a team that once went 14 months without losing at Oracle summon a three-month stretch of perfection at home?

The schedule invites the possibility, but it’s still up to the Warriors and how they cope with tug of three long seasons and that tendency to float a bit in front of their home fans, two factors that have had more effect at home than on the road.

“In general, the appropriate fear we always talk about, it’s there on the road for most games and it’s not there as much at home,” Kerr conceded Monday.

Kevin Durant used different phrasing but echoed the comments of the coach.

“You tend to relax a bit when you’re at home because you’ve got your home crowd,” he acknowledged. “You’re just comfortable in that situation. You can go home and go to sleep in your own bed after the game. So you relax a bit.

“On the road, it just feels like this is the last game of your career. It just feels that way, especially when you’re playing a tough opponent and somewhere with a crowd that’s going to be really, really into it.”

Having gone 39-2, 39-2 and 36-5 over the last three seasons, the Warriors are assured of having their worst home record under Kerr. Still, 35 is not impossible.

The drop is not unanticipated, as Kerr experienced something similar as a member of the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s, when they won three straight championships as their regular-season wins steadily dropped, from 72 to 69 to 62.

“Where it has truly been the most tangible and palpable is home games against lesser opponents,” Kerr said. “We’ve lost six. Maybe two of those are playoff teams.

“We didn’t lose those games the last the last three years. We dominated the home floor. That’s where it really shows.”

The Warriors have lost at home to the Rockets, Pistons, Kings, Nuggets, Hornets and Clippers. Only Houston is a playoff lock. Detroit, Denver and the Clippers are on the fringe of the postseason race. Charlotte is a longshot, Sacramento a no-shot.

The Warriors, in every home loss, have started drowsily or played too carelessly or were self-destructive enough to give back a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter.

“This is the first year in my four years where we’ve lost a lot of home games that we shouldn’t,” Kerr said. “That just points to emotional fatigue. Trying to get up for 82 games is a difficult thing, especially in Year 4 of a quest to get back to The Finals.”

Coming off a successful road trip during which they won four of five games, the Warriors this week face the Knicks, Timberwolves and Celtics -- the latter two being playoff locks.

A home sweep is difficult, of course, but hardly inconceivable. And if the Warriors can pull that off, they’d have only four remaining home games against teams fighting for a top-four playoff slot: the Thunder and Spurs twice each.

Oklahoma City appears to be getting their act together. The Spurs, while still formidable, are starting to look like a team in decline.

They’re also the two teams most likely to get the full attention of the Warriors, who began the week by sitting through video of their last three games, during which they committed numerous hideous errors.

The message: Their unforced mistakes are the surest route to defeat.

“There are key points of the year where we have to hit the reset button in terms of our priorities,” Kerr said. “Right now is one of those times. This is an important week for us. We need to take care of the ball. We need to be smart and make good decisions. If we do that, we’re really, really hard to beat.”

Carr excited to work with Gruden: 'I want him to be tough on me'

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AP

Carr excited to work with Gruden: 'I want him to be tough on me'

Jon Gruden has been interviewed several times since becoming Raiders head coach. Quarterback Derek Carr hasn’t listened to most of those sessions, and certainly doesn’t seek them out.

One landed in Carr’s inbox recently, and something Gruden said really resonated.

Gruden’s message, paraphrased: If Derek Carr is not successful, then I’ve failed as a coach.

There are two comments in that one. Gruden considers Carr extremely talented, and he’s taking responsibility for unlocking the quarterback's vast potential.

Gruden will be hands on in Carr’s development, with all the coaching intensity and fire and eyebrow raises that have become Gruden’s signature.

“He’s going to demand of me. He’s going to push me,” Carr said on this week’s episode of the Raiders Insider Podcast, which will drop Tuesday morning (Subcribe right here). “He’s going to make me be the best version of myself.”

Carr had a direct answer to skeptics wondering aloud whether he can thrive under Gruden’s particular coaching style.

“I want him to be tough on me,” Carr said. “For anyone who thinks I want him to be a different way has no clue about me or how I play football or how I prepare to play this game. I don’t need to tell stories about how I prepare or manage myself.

“(Jon) and I are going to get along great. I hope that he demands of me. I hope he’s hard on me. I don’t need to know he loves me. He has already told me that about 20 times. I appreciate that and we’ll be friends forever, but I know he’ll be demanding and tell me what I need to do. Let’s go fix problems that I have and let’s do what I need to do to win championships. Hopefully that will give people some insight and hopefully that’s the story that gets out, because that’s the truth.”

Carr met his new head coach briefly before his introductory press conference, but has known Gruden since filming the Gruden QB Camp segment back in 2014. They got along great then, and in each interaction since.

“We have so much more in common that people realize,” Carr said. “I think it would blow some people’s minds. Him and I are very similar in the way we go about our business and how we carry ourselves. It’s an exciting time.”

Carr’s excited to have some stability in his football life. The three-time Pro Bowl quarterback will start his fifth NFL season with his fourth head coach, fourth go-round with an offensive coordinator and third offensive scheme. Gruden signed a 10-year contract. OC Greg Olson signed a four-year pact. They’ll be here a while, and Carr’s excited about that.

“It’s going to be really nice,” Carr said. “To know Jon signed on for a 10 years and (Olson) signed on for a long time shows me a couple of things. No. 1: that they believe in me. I don’t think Coach Gruden would’ve quit his day job, which I’m thankful he did. To get (Olson) out of a good spot in L.A (with the Rams), shows that they believe in me and that’s awesome. And, No. 2: I’m going to have two people I can talk to in a different language for years to come. We can grow within the relationship, and hopefully we’ll all ride off together. It’s set up that way right now, and we have a lot of work to do to reach that point.”