A's go for series win over K.C. behind Gonzalez

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A's go for series win over K.C. behind Gonzalez

June 16, 2011

KANSAS CITY (30-38) vs.
A's (29-40)

OAKLAND (AP) -- Though he's only been in the major leagues since 2008, June continues to be a difficult month for Gio Gonzalez.

Gonzalez will try to snap a three-start skid for the Athletics as they close a three-game series with the Kansas City Royals on Thursday afternoon.

With his struggles this month, Gonzalez has dropped to 1-7 with a 4.60 ERA in 11 June starts. The only other months in which the right-hander has posted losing records are August (6-7) and October (0-1).

RELATED: Gio Gonzalez 2011 game logs

Gonzalez had totaled 26 walks in 10 June starts heading into Sunday's matchup with the Chicago White Sox. He issued a career-high seven bases on balls, hit two batters, threw a wild pitch and committed a balk in 5 1-3 innings of Oakland's 3-2 loss.

"I felt like it was a lot better than what the numbers showed. I felt like I gave it all I got. I felt like I was in the game. Not mechanics, just more about composure," Gonzalez told the Athletics' official website.

Gonzalez (5-5, 2.67 ERA) has handed out 23 of his 40 walks this season at O.co Coliseum, where he's 3-2 with a 2.45 ERA.

He beat the Royals on the road May 6 after allowing two runs and four hits over seven innings of a 3-2 victory. Still, Gonzalez is 2-2 with a 6.39 ERA and 15 walks in 25 1-3 innings versus Kansas City.

RELATED: Kansas City Royals news and headlines

The Royals (30-38) will go with Jeff Francis (3-6, 4.40) as he tries to build off his first road win of the season.

The left-hander had been 0-3 with a 6.75 ERA in five starts away from Kansas City before facing the Los Angeles Angels on Friday. He allowed two runs and eight hits in 6 1-3 innings in the 4-2 victory.

"I didn't really change anything. I just tried to make an effort to throw more strikes and make them hit it," Francis said. "Anytime you get a win, it's satisfying as a team - not only as an individual."

Francis, who pitched for Colorado from 2004-10, lost his first game against Oakland on May 8 after giving up three runs and eight hits in 6 1-3 innings of a 5-2 defeat.

Oakland (29-40) gave new manager Bob Melvin his first home win, 2-1 on Wednesday.

GUTIERREZ: A's find winning formula against Royals

The A's were held without a hit through five innings by Luke Hochevar, who eventually gave up RBI singles to Cliff Pennington and Daric Barton. Oakland's Josh Outman, meanwhile, yielded four hits through seven innings for the first win by an A's starter in 16 games.

"We took advantage of just about every chance we could get," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "It was a well-pitched game on both sides."

The A's haven't had back-to-back home wins since May 16 and 17.

The Royals' Alcides Escobar had three hits for the second straight game and scored on Alex Gordon's base hit in the eighth inning.

Escobar will try to set a career high by extending his hitting streak to nine games. He's batting .552 (16 for 29) during his run, increasing his average 42 points to .245.

Escobar went 1 for 3 against Gonzalez last month.

Kansas City is 3-2 on its nine-game swing that concludes in St. Louis starting Friday night.

Green: Wins over Cavs, OKC and Rockets 'our best week of the season'

Green: Wins over Cavs, OKC and Rockets 'our best week of the season'

It may have helped that they had been at home for roughly three weeks.

It surely was to their benefit that the NBA schedule provided three days without a game before they confronted perhaps one of the most rigorous weeks of the season.

The Warriors, however, still had to do the work. They still had to finish.

They still had to beat the team that had roughed them up 22 days earlier, and then squelch another squad coming into Oracle Arena on a wave of emotion and, finally, take to the road and get back at a team that handed them a loss in Oakland.

Done, done and done. And in such a fashion that forward Draymond Green referred to it as “our best week of the season.”

In putting away the Rockets 125-108 on Friday in Houston, the Warriors closed out the traditional worker’s week with a 3-0 record against three teams they could see in the postseason. They’d already routed the defending champion Cavaliers 126-91 on Monday and struck down the Thunder 121-101 on Wednesday.

“It’s three good teams in a row,” Kevin Durant told reporters in Houston. “We definitely wanted to come out and make a nice statement, and I think we did that.

“We always can get better. We can’t relax against Orlando, Miami and Charlotte, teams that can creep up on you and have been playing well lately.”

The Magic, Heat and Hornets -- all dreadful to mediocre -- are the kinds of teams that force the Warriors to compete. They don’t stir the senses like the Cavs or the Thunder or the Rockets, three teams with credentials that demand attention from a Warriors team that sometimes cruises against lesser competition.

So this week was not just about winning games. These weren’t just wins, they were emphatic statements, profound evidence that the team remodeled last summer around the addition of Durant is coming together in the heart of the season.

The defense was tight, with Cleveland shooting 35.2 percent, OKC 42.2 percent and Houston 20.0 percent from beyond the arc, which is the only place that matters for the Rockets.

The Warriors resorted to one of their signature turbocharged third quarters to separate from the Rockets. Shooting 61.9 percent and scoring 9 points off Houston turnovers, the Warriors outscored Houston 37-22 in the third, stretching a five-point halftime lead to 20 going into the fourth quarter.

The Warriors now have an NBA-best differential of plus-250 points in the third quarter this season.

“It’s just something that we put an emphasis on,” Green said. “Coming out and getting off to a good start in the second half. Not coming out flat and giving another team life or letting them go on a run and then trying to make it up. And once we go on our run, we can get rolling pretty well and make it tough on other teams.”

That was the case this week, as the Warriors topped 50 percent from the field in all three victories.

Durant scored 32 points against Houston and averaged 31 points over the last three games. Stephen Curry put in 24 points and averaged 22.7 for the week. Green, meanwhile, averaged 12.7 points, 10.7 rebounds, 7.7 assists and 3.7 blocks.

“It was our best week of the season because we’ve gotten better each time we’ve stepped on the floor this week,” Green said. “And that’s what’s most important. It’s not about blasting these three teams. It’s about getting better, and trying to reach our end goal. In order to do that, you have to get better each and every time you step on the floor.

“We did that these three games, so that’s the most important thing. That’s why it’s been a good week, not because of the margin of the wins that we had.”

Instant Replay: Warriors ground Rockets, run win streak to six games

Instant Replay: Warriors ground Rockets, run win streak to six games

BOX SCORE

The Warriors avenged yet another loss Friday night, rolling into Houston and laying a 125-108 beating on the Rockets at Toyota Center.

All five Warriors starters scored in double figures, with Kevin Durant totaling 32 points to lead the way. Stephen Curry finished with 24 points, Klay Thompson with 16, Draymond Green with 15 and Zaza Pachulia added 10.

The Warriors (37-6) suffocated Houston’s high-powered offense, which is predicated on 3-point shooting, holding the Rockets to 20 percent (7-of-35) beyond the arc. The Warriors forced 15 turnovers, off which they scored 19 points.

Backup center Clint Capela scored 22 points to lead Houston (33-13). MVP candidate James Harden was held to 17 points on 6-of-13 shooting, including 0-of-5 from 3-point distance.

Having beaten the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday, the Warriors this week evened the ledger against two elite teams. They lost to Houston on Dec. 1 in Oakland, 132-127, in double overtime that accounted for one of only three losses at Oracle Arena.

STANDOUT PERFORMER

The entire starting lineup played well, but Durant proved too much for anything the Rockets threw at him.

Durant’s line: 32 points (12-of-19 shooting from the field, including 2-of-7 from deep, 6-of-7 from the line), seven assists, four rebounds, two blocks and two steals. He played 34 minutes and was plus-25 for the game.

TURNING POINT

After Houston trimmed their lead to five (64-59) with 11:39 remaining in the third quarter, the Warriors responded with a 23-8 run, punctuated by a 28-foot 3-pointer by Curry to go up 87-67 with 5:58 left in the quarter.

The Warriors led by 20 entering the fourth quarter, and the Rockets got no closer than 15 over the final 12 minutes.

INJURY UPDATE

Warriors: C/F David West (L thumb fracture) was listed as out.

Rockets: F Ryan Anderson (flu) was listed as questionable but upgraded to available. He was in the starting lineup, but played only nine minutes before leaving for good.

WHAT’S NEXT

The Warriors return to action Sunday in Orlando, where they face the Magic at Amway Center. Tipoff is scheduled for noon Pacific.