Giants poised to prey upon fading Pirates

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Giants poised to prey upon fading Pirates

August 8, 2011

PITTSBURGH (54-59) vs.
GIANTS (63-52)

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

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Two weeks ago, the San Francisco Giants and the Pittsburgh Pirates were division leaders. Both teams have been playing poorly, but the Giants have managed to remain in first place and the Pirates are nowhere near it.

The Giants try to boost their record on a sagging homestand as they look to hand the Pirates an 11th consecutive loss Monday night.

While San Francisco (63-52) has a half-game lead over Arizona atop the NL West despite losing eight of 10, Pittsburgh - the Central leader as recently as July 26 - has dropped 10 straight to fall 10 games behind division-leading Milwaukee.

"It's obviously not easy right now," second baseman Neil Walker said. "... Nobody likes the feeling that we have right now."

The Pirates (54-59) may have a tough time halting their skid Monday, considering they have lost seven of eight in San Francisco and will be facing Ryan Vogelsong - second in the NL in ERA.

The Giants have gone 2-5 on their 10-game homestand but avoided a four-game sweep to Philadelphia with Sunday's 3-1 win over the NL East leaders.

REWIND: Lincecum, Giants avoid sweep; hold off Phils

"With the funk we've been in, you hope this is something to build on," winning pitcher Tim Lincecum said. "We don't want to be content just winning one here and there."

San Francisco expects Carlos Beltran to be in the lineup even though he left in the seventh inning Sunday with pain in the top of his right hand on a swinging strikeout. Beltran, batting .268 with two RBIs in 10 games since being acquired from the New York Mets, has hit .395 with 11 RBIs in his last 10 versus Pittsburgh.

Fellow midseason acquisition Jeff Keppinger is 6 for 8 in his last two games and will look to stay hot to back Vogelsong (9-1, 2.19 ERA), who will try to beat his former team for the second time in as many tries.

Pitching at Pittsburgh on April 28 in his first start since 2004, Vogelsong gave up two runs in 5 2-3 innings and matched a career high with eight strikeouts in a 5-2 win for his first victory in the majors since Sept. 14, 2005.

Vogelsong was 10-19 with a 6.00 ERA from 2001-06 with Pittsburgh before playing in the minors and in Japan.

The right-hander won for the third time in four games after holding Arizona to a run and five hits in six innings of an 8-1 win Wednesday.

Walker was 3 for 3 against Vogelsong in April and enters this contest with nine multihit efforts in his last 13 games.

His performance has made little difference to a Pittsburgh team mired in its longest losing streak since a 12-game slide June 6-18, 2010.

The Pirates begin a six-game road trip after an 0-7 homestand - their worst in 125 years - capped by Sunday's 7-3 loss to San Diego.

Poor pitching has been a key to the Pirates' losing streak. Starters have posted an 8.39 ERA while failing to complete six innings in five games.

Charlie Morton (8-6, 3.80) got past the sixth for the first time in nine starts Wednesday, lasting seven innings in Wednesday's 1-0 loss to the Cubs, and he goes back to the mound Monday.

He's 5-2 with a 3.76 ERA in nine road starts this year, including 5-0 when allowing four runs or less. The right-hander is looking for his first win in four starts overall.

Morton didn't get a decision in a 3-2 home loss to the Giants on April 26, giving up one run in six innings during a series in which Pittsburgh lost two of three games. He's 1-3 with a 3.48 ERA in five career starts against San Francisco.

Kelly: Lynch expected back vs. Jets

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Kelly: Lynch expected back vs. Jets

Outside linebacker Aaron Lynch has missed give games with a high-ankle sprain and still appears to be restricted while moving in pre-practice drills.

But 49ers coach Chip Kelly said Friday morning on his radio show on KNBR that he anticipates Lynch will be able to get back on the field Sunday against the New York Jets for just his fourth game of the season.

Kelly was asked about why the 49ers have not promoted outside linebacker Marcus Rush from the practice squad. Rush led the 49ers with six sacks in the exhibition season. His best game came against the Denver Broncos, beating former Nevada tackle Kyle Roberts for three sacks. Roberts is not on an NFL roster or practice squad.

“We haven’t had an opportunity at outside linebacker,” Kelly said. “We didn’t put Aaron on IR, and we anticipate getting Aaron back this week. So we really don’t have a spot at that position he plays.

“If we were to lose a player at outside linebacker, then we’d certainly think about activating him. But we ahven’t lost an outside linebacker, so we still have Ahmad Brooks, Eli Harold, Tank Carradine and Aaron. We carry four outside linebackers on our team. Aaron’s been out for a little bit here with his ankle, but it wasn’t a season-ending injury, so we just really don’t have a spot for him.”

Lynch has one sack in three games this season. He was suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the league’s policy on substances of abuse. He has not returned to action since sustaining an ankle sprain in the Oct. 23 game against Tampa Bay.

Cooper 'didn't stumble,' NBC says incompletion didn't hit camera cable

Cooper 'didn't stumble,' NBC says incompletion didn't hit camera cable

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Raiders quarterback Derek Carr had pass rushers all around, but evaded them just long enough for Amari Cooper to do his thing.

He put an extra move on Marcus Peters and came free over the top. Carr saw his favorite target wide open, stepped up amid the chaos and let it fly. His volley went skyward, and Cooper veered right, tracking it as gravity brought the ball back. The pass ended up falling left, too far for Cooper to catch it.

“That’s a play we typically make,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said Thursday. “We didn’t make it tonight.”

The Raiders were down 21-13 in the fourth quarter when that opportunity came about. Neither team scored again, and that result moved Kansas City over the Raiders and atop the AFC West.

There were other chances to score, including a long drive that stalled at the Kansas City 19-yard line with two minutes remaining. The deep incompletion came on 3rd-and-7 on the Raiders’ penultimate series, and a missed connection proved costly in their comeback efforts.

The whole exchange was uncharacteristic. Cooper doesn’t believe he misread the pass or took a false step to his right. He said it altered course and the worst time.

“I didn’t stumble,” Cooper said. “The ball, as it was coming down, moved at the last minute. That’s why it looked like I might have stumbled. I was running in the right direction and it kind of moved inside at the last minute, and I didn’t have time to get it.”

That has led many on social media to claim Carr’s pass hit a cable supporting a Skycam, a mobile camera that gets aerial shots during a game. The technology uses a series of cables to give the camera free motion over the field.

There is no conclusive video to show whether a ball hit the cable. Carr’s pass leaves the frame and doesn’t come back into view until it’s already off course.

NBC is certain the camera didn’t play a role in one of many missed opportunities to complete a comeback and beat the Chiefs.

“The camera is always behind the play and cables are really high over the surface,” NBC executive producer Fred Gaudelli said in an email to Deadspin. “Look at the replay we showed from sky cam - if anything hits the wire it would effect a bump in the camera and you would see that on the air.”

Punts have hit camera cables before, and NFL rules mandate a down be replayed if interference occurs.

The NFL mandates the camera always be behind the play. On the third down in question, the camera was in the Raiders backfield as it should’ve been.

There’s no solid evidence that the ball hit a cable, it’s entirely possible Carr’s pass simply went awry. The typically accurate quarterback struggled with touch all night, and never found the passing rhythm characteristic of his MVP-caliber season.

Arrowhead Stadium often has unpredictable wind gusts that could’ve changed trajectory upon descent. No Raiders or official questioned the play at the time, which fell harmlessly incomplete when the Raiders needed a big play.

Here’s the play in slow motion, courtesy of Deadspin.

http://deadspin.com/derek-carrs-pass-to-amari-cooper-did-not-hit-a-camera-1789911192