Earthquakes

Giants, D'Backs to battle for first in NL West

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Giants, D'Backs to battle for first in NL West

August 1, 2011

ARIZONA (59-49) vs.
GIANTS (61-47)

Coverage begins at 6:30 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Seeing the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants atop the NL West shouldn't come as much of a shock.

After back-to-back last-place finishes, the Arizona Diamondbacks' opportunity to move into first place this late in the season is, in contrast, quite surprising.

With the top spot in the West ultimately up for grabs, the visiting Diamondbacks and Giants open a heavily-anticipated three-game set Monday night.

San Francisco (61-47) has led the division since overtaking Arizona on June 25, but now finds itself just two games ahead of the Diamondbacks following a three-game sweep at the hands of Cincinnati over the weekend. The Giants scored a combined five runs over the first two games before they were held to a season worst-tying three hits during Sunday's 9-0 defeat.

KILLION: A Giant wake-up call

"This club is resilient," manager Bruce Bochy said. "We've been through this before. It's not easy. There are always going to be bumps in the road, and this was a big one. It's up to us. We've got to go out there and play our best ball. We've got the talent. We've just got to do it."

San Francisco could have trouble snapping out of its funk with red-hot Arizona (59-49) coming to town. The Diamondbacks have outscored opponents 49-27 en route to taking six of eight - including Sunday's 6-3 road win over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

While Arizona has dropped seven of nine meetings with the Giants this season, manager Kirk Gibson's club will look for its recent momentum to carry over into this series.

"I think we're a different team now and we've developed a lot of character," Gibson said. "This is what it's all about, and guys love it. It'll probably be pretty exhaustive. But it's not do-or-die, and I don't want guys to put pressure on themselves - just continue to grit and grind.

"We just have to keep an even keel, and however we come out of that series, we'll move on to the next one."

Much of the team's recent success at the plate can be attributed to Justin Upton, who's 22 for 46 (.478) with six homers and 19 RBIs during a 12-game hitting streak. Upton's also hurt the Giants of late, going 22 for 55 (.400) with two homers over his last 13 games in the series.

Matt Cain (9-6, 2.91 ERA) is saddled with the tough task of slowing Upton down.

The right-hander has been very sharp of late, going 2-1 with a 1.44 ERA over his last four starts. He held Philadelphia to one unearned run and four hits over seven innings of Wednesday's 2-1 road win.

That same night, San Francisco acquired Carlos Beltran from the New York Mets in an attempt to boost its offense.

Beltran, however, is 2 for 17 (.118) in four games with his new club. He can't be happy about facing Ian Kennedy (12-3, 3.22), who's held him hitless in five career at-bats.

Kennedy is in the midst of a career-best four-start winning streak, during which he's compiled a 2.42 ERA. The right-hander gave up two runs, four hits, and fanned nine in six innings of Wednesday's 4-3 victory at San Diego.

"Fastball command wasn't as good as I wanted it to be but my changeup was probably the best it's been in a while," said Kennedy, 1-2 despite a 1.81 ERA lifetime against the Giants.

Cain, too, has experienced plenty of success in this series, especially at home, where he's 3-0 with a 1.57 ERA in his last six starts against Arizona - including a one-hitter on May 28, 2010.

Upton is 9 for 27 with seven strikeouts against Cain.

Quakes grab second-half equalizer to clinch second straight draw

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USATSI

Quakes grab second-half equalizer to clinch second straight draw

BOX SCORE

SANDY, Utah  — Danny Hoesen scored his third goal in two games and Andrew Tarbell tied his career high with seven saves to help the San Jose Earthquakes to a 1-1 tie with Real Salt Lake on Saturday night.

Valeri Qazaishvili’s shot from the top of the box was stopped by a diving Nick Rimando, but Hoesen chipped in the rebound to make it 1-1 in the 64th minute.

Salt Lake’s Damir Kreilach opened the scoring in the 54th, heading home Corey Baird’s redirection of a corner kick by Albert Rusnak from the top of the 6-yard box.

San Jose (2-9-4), which is winless since May 12, snapped a six-game losing streak.

Real Salt Lake (7-7-1) had its six-game home win streak snapped.

Salt Lake came up empty on multiple chances: Baird chipped a one-on-one opportunity wide in the 11th minute, Rusnak pushed a free kick from 30-yards out just over the cross bar in the 29th, Tarbell made a diving stop of a first-timer from Baird in the opening minute of the second half and Marcelo Silva’s header off a corner kick rolled off the cross bar onto the top of the net.

Bagley ready to get started in Sacramento: 'I've worked my whole life for this'

Bagley ready to get started in Sacramento: 'I've worked my whole life for this'

SACRAMENTO -- Welcome to sunny Sacramento, California, Marvin Bagley III. The Kings' prized rookie made his way to the Capital City following Thursday night’s draft. On Saturday afternoon, he dropped by Golden 1 Center for his first official media appearance.

While being flanked by his general manager, Vlade Divac, and his head coach, Dave Joerger, the 6-foot-11 big man was all smiles as he held up his new No. 35 Kings jersey.

“To know that I’m going to be in Sacramento, building something and just getting better as a player, it kind of gives me a chance to focus in and lock in on everything I need to get better at,” Bagley said. “I’m definitely excited.”

[WATCH: Marvin Bagley III's full introductory press conference]

Kings fans showed up in force to greet Bagley at the airport Friday afternoon and again at a "Music in the Park" gathering Friday evening. The passionate fanbase that is already embracing the 19-year-old rookie.

“The reaction from the fans everywhere I’ve been so far, it’s been great, it’s been great,” Bagley said. “It makes you feel good and it makes you want to work harder and get ready to go out and play in front of fans like that who have your back.”

Building up to the draft, Bagley told his inner circle not to tell him where he was going. He wanted the moment to be a surprise.

“I was just anxious, I wanted to find out for myself,” Bagley said. “Hearing my name being called, it was kind of an outer body experience, I would say. I’ve worked my whole life for this.”

After bouncing around during his high school career and playing just one season at Duke, Bagley is looking for some stability. He’s moving his entire family out to California with him, including his two younger brothers, who will attend school in the Sacramento area.

Bagley is familiar with a few of the young players, including De’Aaron Fox and Harry Giles, who he played against on the AAU circuit. The trio spent a little bit of time together during the draft process while Bagley was visiting the Kings’ facility.

The plan is for the young Kings players to reconvene on Thursday for a mini-camp leading up to the summer league schedule. It’s a test run for what should be an interesting season of Kings basketball. 

Sacramento will continue to develop their young roster than now includes nine players on rookie-scale contracts. Bagley is expected to see major time in his rookie year as Joerger “takes off the training wheels” for this season.

Bagley likes the nickname MB3Five or MBIII, although he’s leaving it open for suggestions. He’s also been in the studio cutting a track or two.

“Music is a way to express myself,” Bagley told NBC Sports California.“A lot of people see me as a player, only on the court playing basketball. Music gives me a platform to kind of express myself and share my story of how I got here.”

Bagley is an engaging young man with tremendous upside. The Kings hope they landed a future All-Star level player with the second overall selection.

The rookie will make his debut in a little over a week at the California Classic at Golden 1 Center. The three-day tournament over July 2, 3 and 5 will feature the Kings summer league roster, along with teams assembled by the Golden State Warriors, Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers.

Bagley is also schedule to play in the Las Vegas Summer League in the first week of July.