Giants hold off D'backs, preserve win for Cain

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Giants hold off D'backs, preserve win for Cain

June 14, 2011BOXSCORE GIANTSVIDEOMLBPAGE MLBSCOREBOARD

PHOENIX (AP) So used to playing close games, the San Francisco Giants almost didn't know what to do with big early lead.Leading by five runs after becoming the first team to rough up Arizona's Josh Collmenter, the Giants escaped some shaky moments by starter Matt Cain and closer Brian Wilson to hold off the Diamondbacks 6-5 on Tuesday night and maintain their slim grip on the NL West lead."Doesn't matter the team, we usually play tight games," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "We don't have too many games that get out of hand either way."Scratching out a few runs while relying on solid pitching had kept the defending World Series champions in the division race with the surging Diamondbacks.
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A team with the second-lowest run support in the NL (3.61 per game), the Giants found themselves in an unfamiliar spot after Cody Ross hit a two-run double and scored on a double steal in the fifth inning off Collmenter (4-2).Leading 5-0 after Collmenter's first shaky outing in a superb rookie season, San Francisco watched Cain (6-4) nearly give it all back, allowing Arizona to pull within 5-4 on Miguel Montero's three-run homer in the sixth inning.But, back in the comfort of a close game, the Giants closed it out.Nate Schierholtz gave San Francisco a cushion run with a run-scoring double in the seventh and the combination of Jeremy Affeldt, Sergio Romo and Javier Lopez bridged the gap to Wilson.The shaggy-bearded closer made it interesting, walking two and uncorking a wild pitch to put runners on second and third with two outs, but struck out Stephen Drew looking for his 19th save to push the Giants 1 12 games ahead of Arizona."We were putting together good at-bats - we've had a long string of that," Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said. "I thought we had a real good shot in the ninth inning, just unable to get him in. The guy (Wilson) is pretty good out there."This three-day meeting for first place features teams in different states of mind.The Giants have had a rough go of defending their World Series title, battered and beaten down by a tough stretch in the schedule and a tougher stretch of injuries.Catcher Buster Posey (ankle) is out for the season, second baseman Freddy Sanchez (shoulder) for who knows how long and rookie Brandon Belt (wrist) possibly another month. San Francisco had gone 20 days without a day off before traveling on Monday.Despite the roster attrition, the Giants have stayed near the top of the NL West, winning eight of 12 games to enter the series against Arizona a half-game ahead. They also got slugging third baseman Pablo Sandoval back after more than a month on the DL with a broken right wrist.
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The Diamondbacks had made a surprising run toward the top.Already 6 12 games out of first at the end of April, Arizona turned it around quickly in May, a 15-2 stretch igniting seven wins in 10 series. The Diamondbacks were coming off three straight road wins over Florida, moving them seven games above .500 for the first time since Aug. 23, 2008 (68-61).A rare off night by Collmenter spoiled a chance to keep it going.Sandoval had a run-scoring off him in the first, then Cain helped himself with a sacrifice bunt to score another run in the fourth. Ross made it 5-0 in the fifth with his RBI double and run on the double steal.Collmenter allowed five runs - one fewer than his previous 14 outings combined - eight hits and walked three."There were a couple of close pitches, but I wasn't commanding the zone like I usually am," said Collmenter, who had his 13-inning scoreless streak end in the first inning. "Wasn't able to pound strikes and get ahead. I was falling behind too much."Cain nearly gave almost all of it back.The right-hander had the Diamondbacks guessing through four innings before Ryan Roberts drove in a run with a sacrifice fly in the fifth. Montero made what had been a one-sided game close with one swing of the bat the next inning, lifting his three-run homer to right.Schierholtz put San Francisco up two with a double in the seventh inning, an important run after Arizona's Justin Upton hit run-scoring double down the line in left in the bottom half made it 6-5.Upton's hit chased Cain, who allowed five runs and eight hits in 6 2-3 innings."I just need to stay locked in and I didn't do that the last couple of innings," said Cain, who has a five-game winning streak against Arizona.San Francisco's bullpen made sure it didn't hurt him.Notes: Despite a temperature of 104 at first pitch, the roof at Chase Field was open for the game. ... Arizona CF Chris Young had his errorless streak end at 66 games by booting Schierholtz's double in the seventh. ... Cain has pitched 1,188 career innings, passing John Montefusco for eighth on San Francisco's all-time list.

Kings' Cousins: 'Only goal this season' is to make playoffs

Kings' Cousins: 'Only goal this season' is to make playoffs

With their 109-104 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Monday night, the Sacramento Kings sit 10 games under .500 at 17-27. In almost any other season, that would mean that they were dead in the water in the Western Conference playoff race. But this it the 2016-17 season where anything is possible at the bottom.

Following Sacramento’s win at the Palace at Auburn Hills, DeMarcus Cousins was asked about the playoff picture.

“It’s my only goal this season,” Cousins told reporters following the game. “My only goal.” 

When pushed on the subject, he gave a more complete answer.

“Oh man, it’s eating me alive - every loss or every time another team wins that’s battling for the eighth spot, it’s eating me alive,” Cousins added. “Our only goal is to be in the playoffs this season.”

The Kings snapped a five-game losing streak with the win over the Pistons and they came into the evening just 2-10 over their previous 12 games. 

Once they get through their current eight game road trip, they spend the entire month of February in the Pacific time zone and play 11 over their next 13 games at Golden 1 Center.  

“The one thing I can give credit to this team about is us staying together and being a positive locker room through the ups and downs,” Cousins said. “I’m still confident and I still believe we’re going to make that push for the playoffs.”

Despite the rough patch, the Kings remain just a game and a half out of the eighth spot in the Western Conference standings. No one is running away with that last playoff spot, at least not yet.

 

Lawson, bench unit spark Kings' much-needed win over Pistons

Lawson, bench unit spark Kings' much-needed win over Pistons

Everyone must contribute. With Rudy Gay gone for the season, Sacramento needs a team effort each night out if they are going to have a chance of turning things around. Balancing the roster on the fly is never easy, but it’s the hand that the Kings were dealt when their second leading scorer tore his Achilles last week.

Needing a win in the worst way, the Kings walked into the Palace at Auburn Hills and came away with a huge 109-104 victory. Demarcus Cousins put up numbers, but it was the supporting cast that found a way to rise to the occasion and snap the team’s five-game losing streak.

“We’re going to need everybody on this team,” Cousins told reporters following the game. “At some point, everyone on the bench is going to win a game for us. Tonight, it was Ty (Lawson), it was Willie (Cauley-Stein) and it was Malachi (Richardson).”

Lawson was a magician with the ball. He entered the game with the Kings down just one with 3:36 remaining in the first quarter, but the Pistons caught fire around that time and pushed the lead to 11 with 20 seconds remaining in the quarter.

It looked like Sacramento might fall behind big once again, but then Lawson and the bench unit took over.

“Ty Lawson, Malachi Richardson and Willie Cauley-Stein had a great energy when we were down 11 in the first half,” Joerger told reporters. “Obviously, probably the best Willie’s played all year. Same for Malachi. He got some run, he got a little burn in the second half, felt pretty good.”

Powered by Lawson, the offense instantly opened up in the second quarter as the Kings tracked down the Pistons on their home floor. Sacramento outscored Detroit 37-24 in the frame to take a three point lead into the intermission. Lawson posted nine points and handed out four assists in the quarter.

“When our offense gets sticky, he’s able to create shots for guys by getting kickouts and getting in the lane,” Joerger said.

The 5-foot-11 point guard didn’t let up in the second half, finishing the night with 19 points and six assists in 23 minutes of action.  

“Chico just goes and plays, man, that’s Chico,” Cousins said of Lawson. “If there’s anyone with a green light to just go and play, it’s him. We love what he does with this team. He’s a spark off the bench for us. He gets us going when there’s a slump. We love the little guy.”

Lawson has become a catalyst off the bench for coach Jeorger. The 29-year-old speedster signed a one-year deal with the Kings late in the offseason and he’s quickly found his niche with the team.

“You play with Ty, you can’t help by want to run, because he will pitch it to you and that’s the best motivation - everybody wants to score,” said Joerger.

Cousins and Lawson didn’t do it alone. Cauley-Stein had one of his games of the season, finishing the night with 12 points and five rebounds. Darren Collison added 12 points, Garrett Temple chipped in 11 points and veteran Matt Barnes added 10 points and eight rebounds.  

“It’s a big, bounce back win,” Cousins said. “We were kind of heartbroken about the last lost. We felt we did everything needed to pull a win and it just didn’t go that way for us. We kind of showed our character and showed we could overcome some type of adversity with the win tonight.”

The Kings are back at it on Wednesday in Cleveland when they hit game four of their season-long eight-game road trip. They’ll face LeBron James and the championship Cavs for the second time this month.  

“It’s huge, we had a little stretch where we lost like eight of nine games, something like that,” Lawson told CSN’s Kayte Christensen following the game. “Getting a win going into Cleveland, it makes us feel a little bit better. Now we’ve got to go in and get a tough one.”

A tough one indeed. Cleveland sits at 31-13 on the season, but they are coming off back-to-back losses against the Spurs and Pelicans.