Crisp comes up short, A's lose 4-3 to ChiSox


Crisp comes up short, A's lose 4-3 to ChiSox

OAKLAND (AP) Out of the corner of his eye, Chicago reliever Matt Thornton saw Coco Crisp breaking for home plate, but the left-hander couldn't stop his motion without committing a balk.Good thing for the White Sox.A.J. Pierzynski caught Thornton's inside pitch and dove in front of the plate to cut down Crisp trying to score the tying run on a straight steal in the eighth inning, helping to preserve a 4-3 win over the Oakland Athletics on Friday night."He caught me off guard a little bit," Thornton said. "You never know, if I flinch you might get a balk. Everyone thought he was just going to deke a little bit, fake in and come back out, but he kept on going."Two weeks ago that's a game-tying run and who knows what happens? But we're playing a little better baseball right now and getting some better results as a whole."The White Sox, winners of five of their last six, are definitely on the upswing following a 4-18 stretch that threatened to take them out of contention before the All-Star break.Chicago is still nine games behind first-place Cleveland in the AL Central but the outlook is a lot more optimistic than it once was.Omar Vizquel had an RBI double during a four-run second inning and Phil Humber (3-3) pitched well into the seventh. Chicago managed only five hits and did all its scoring in one inning but made several stellar defensive plays.The biggest came when Crisp tried a rare straight steal of home, a play that had the White Sox clubhouse buzzing long after the game ended.Crisp led off the inning with a single, stole second and went to third on Daric Barton's groundout. The speedy outfielder faked as if he was going to steal, then broke for home while Thornton was in his windup. Pierzynski caught the pitch and reached out to tag Crisp on the shoulder as he dove for a corner of the plate."I was trying to make something happen, but it's a play I have to make," Crisp said. "I still believe if I don't stutter step, I make it. If he (Pierzynski) hesitates, I'm in. It was a good pitch and a good play by him."Humber gave up three runs and six hits in six-plus innings, the fourth straight solid outing by the right-hander. He didn't walk a batter for the first time in seven starts this season.Sergio Santos worked the ninth for his fourth save in four chances.Humber, claimed off waivers from Oakland in January, had his only bad inning in the seventh when the A's chased him with four consecutive singles.Humber's wild pitch with the bases loaded scored Ryan Sweeney from third, and David DeJesus' second hit of the night, a soft single to right, drove in Hideki Matsui. Jesse Crain struck out Mark Ellis, then gave up a sacrifice fly to Kevin Kouzmanoff that cut the White Sox lead to 4-3.Crain avoided further damage by picking off DeJesus at first."I'll take it," Humber said. "I didn't pitch that great out there. They hit a lot of balls hard right at guys. Fortunately we put some runs on the board early and then the bullpen came in and did a great job."DeJesus finished with two hits and needs one more to reach 1,000 for his career.Oakland starter Brandon McCarthy had control problems in the second inning when the White Sox scored four times. He gave up a leadoff single to Paul Konerko, then issued back-to-back walks to load the bases. Alex Rios' grounder scored one run and Vizquel followed with an RBI double.Gordon Beckham's sacrifice fly made it 3-0, and after Juan Pierre reached on an infield single, McCarthy threw wildly to first on a pickoff attempt. The ball rolled into Chicago's bullpen as Vizquel raced in from third.McCarthy (1-4) settled down and allowed only two hits over the next five innings but remains winless over his last six starts.The right-hander had six strikeouts and two walks."We got down four but then (McCarthy) got it back quickly and got better as the game went along," Oakland manager Bob Geren said. "It was right there for us, but we couldn't overcome the early four-run deficit."NOTES: Injured Oakland closer Andrew Bailey played catch before leaving for Arizona, where he's scheduled to pitch one inning in an extended spring training game Saturday. ... The A's played without OF Josh Willingham, who served a one-game suspension for bumping plate umpire Bill Miller while arguing a called third strike against Kansas City on May 6. ... Playing 20 games without an off day, the White Sox are going with a six-man rotation and manager Ozzie Guillen isn't ruling out using it beyond that. ... Justine Siegel, a 36-year-old mother of one, threw batting practice to Geren and a few A's players before the game. Siegel had previously pitched batting practice for Oakland in spring training and was extended an invitation to join the team at the Coliseum.

Rewind: Opener brings painful reminder nothing's given for Warriors

Rewind: Opener brings painful reminder nothing's given for Warriors

OAKLAND – Kevin Durant drove to Oracle Arena for his Warriors debut Tuesday night, walked in feeling good and quickly got quite the horrific surprise.

The San Antonio Spurs started knocking on the door to the place and didn’t stop until they owned it.

The Spurs barged in and took what they wanted, everything from points and rebounds to wine and shaving cream. And the Warriors, as if bound and gagged, mostly watched helplessly in taking a 129-100 beating.

“A nice little slap in the face,” Steph Curry summarized.

“We got punched in the mouth,” Draymond Green acknowledged before adding the real takeaway line, “which I don’t know if it was quite a bad thing for us.”

This brutal flogging ends talk of a historically great start resembling that which the Warriors managed last season in winning their first 24 games. This puts to rest any cloak of invincibility for which they might have been being fitted, whether in their minds of those of their fans.

The Warriors were mugged on the glass, losing the rebounding battle 54-35, with San Antonio snatching 21 on offense and turning them into 26-4 advantage in second-chance points. The bigger, slower Spurs even outscored the Warriors 24-20 on the fast break.

“I’m sure we’ll be motivated for our next game,” coach Steve Kerr said. “I think our guys were embarrassed. I know I was.”

If embarrassing seems a bit strong, this surely was nothing less than a night of utter public humility. The curtain came up on opening night and there was CEO Joe Lacob shifting and twisting in his courtside seat, like a man getting teeth extracted without anesthesia, watching his Dream Team was destroyed.

“I didn’t have them ready to play, obviously,” Kerr said.

“The first game, you want to come out and protect your home court with the energy of the home opener to live throughout the game,” Curry said. “And we didn’t do anything to let that happen.”

Curry's numbers were not awful, at least not in the grand scheme of things. He posted 26 points, four assists and three rebounds – but added four turnovers.

And Durant, who started the game 4-of-4, delighting a crowd that had visions of 3-pointers raining from above, also submitted a glossy stat line, finishing with 27 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks.

But the Warriors were dragged across their own floor. Oracle Arena has been their sanctuary for two full seasons, during which they posted a 78-4 record.

The best they can do now is 40-1.

“No one is satisfied with the way they played tonight, especially myself,” said Klay Thompson, who scored 11 points on 5-of-13 shooting. “In the long run, this will benefit us. It’s a long season, and not everything is going to be perfect from the jump.”

So, no, the season is not over. Not even close. Remember, LeBron James’ debut with the Miami Heat six years ago ended with an 88-80 loss, followed by seven more losses in the next 16 games.

But it’s always alarming when someone storms into your house, looks you in the eye and takes what they want.

Opening night for the Warriors delivered a painful reminder that regardless of how imposing they might be or how many All-Stars are on the payroll, nothing will be given. Effort and desire, as they discovered, can be more than a great equalizer.

The Warriors now know that victory is not preordained, that if they want the glory and the spoils they believe to be theirs, they will have to prove it. Every night.

Rewind: Vlasic the unlikely hero in Sharks OT win

Rewind: Vlasic the unlikely hero in Sharks OT win

SAN JOSE – Prior to the season’s start, Marc-Edouard Vlasic mentioned that the Sharks’ blue line group might not get the league-wide respect it deserves due to it only having “one offensive defenseman.” He was, of course, referring to Brent Burns.

Through the first six games, that was the truth. Burns entered Tuesday night’s action with nine points, tied for the league lead in scoring, while the other five Sharks defenseman had just three assists – combined.

For at least one night, though, it wasn’t Burns who was the offensive hero. That honor went to Vlasic, who seized a loose puck in the neutral zone in overtime against Anaheim, raced ahead towards goalie John Gibson on a partial breakaway, and finished off a beautiful goal in giving the Sharks a much-deserved 2-1 win at SAP Center.

“Put my head down, breakaway, cut across and I was able to put it in,” said Vlasic, who had the presence of mind to use his skate to keep a backchecking Corey Perry from knocking the puck away. 

Pete DeBoer said: "He's got some speed when he wants to use it, and he's a big game player. That's what he does. Those guys find another level at key times, and he's one of those guys.”

The goal served as poetic justice in that the Sharks were the much better team throughout three periods. San Jose held a 35-20 advantage on the shot clock but only managed one goal, a power play marker by Joe Pavelski in the first period. Chris Wagner answered that late in the second period, despite San Jose registering 15 of the 20 shots in the middle frame.

DeBoer rearranged all four of his forward lines after the Sharks were shut out in Detroit on Saturday, and the Sharks looked much more dangerous despite just the single lonely marker before overtime.

“There’s a lot of good little things that we did well,” Pavelski said. “We were on the attack, felt like we were on the inside. We just weren’t cashing in or getting that bounce.”

Couture said: “We created some chances. We could have had a couple. Each line played pretty well.”

DeBoer, too, liked what he saw from his new combos.

“If we keep playing like that, it's going to come,” he said. “But, it was a nice response game after the Detroit game.”

Perhaps the most consistent part of the Sharks’ game through seven games has been their penalty kill. San Jose fought off all three Ducks advantages, including a brief five-on-three in the first period shortly after Pavelski had opened the scoring.

Micheal Haley took exception to a high hit by Clayton Stoner on Patrick Marleau, and dropped the gloves with the Anaheim defenseman. He was issued an instigation minor to go along with a fighting major and 10-minute misconduct, and one minute and 24 seconds later, Tomas Hertl was busted for a faceoff violation.

Couture, Burns and Paul Martin worked to nullify the two-man advantage, and the Sharks proceeded to kill the remaining time on the Hertl penalty, too.

“It was an important time of the game with a one-goal lead,” said Martin Jones, who made seven saves on the PK and 19 total.

Penalties like Haley’s, where he was sticking up for a teammate, are also easier to get up for according to the goalie.

“I don't think he was expecting to get an instigator call on that one, but yeah, we'll kill that off, for sure,” Jones said. “Hales is a good team guy to go out and do stuff like that."

San Jose is 18-for-22 on the penalty kill overall, including a third period kill of a Joe Thornton holding-the-stick minor at 4:09.

“We’ve allowed [four] goals against, but they were unfortunate bounces or really nice shots from them that we could do nothing about,” Vlasic said. “Penalty kill has been good. Guys have been bearing down, blocking shots when we need to.”

The Sharks will remain at home where they will host the rebuilding Blue Jackets on Thursday and Predators on Saturday. After an odd training camp with many players missing and a tough five-games-in-eight-days road trip after the home opener, they’ll get a chance now to enjoy a much more normal day-to-day routine, with practice.

Tuesday’s win could serve as a solid foundation on which to build.

“That was definitely one of our better games this year,” Couture said. “It was good from basically start to finish.”

Especially the finish.