Homer happy Red Sox take down Gio, A's 5-3

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Homer happy Red Sox take down Gio, A's 5-3

April 20, 2011
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OAKLAND (AP) A short turnaround against a pitcher throwing better than anyone in the majors presented a tough environment for the Boston Red Sox to come up with their first road win of the season.Kevin Youkilis and Jed Lowrie homered off the previously untouchable Gio Gonzalez and the Red Sox ended their season-opening seven-game road skid by beating the Oakland Athletics 5-3 on Wednesday."It's a little late, but it feels good," manager Terry Francona said. "If we bog ourselves down with what we did two weeks ago, that's what we're going to do: bog ourselves down. We need to try to stay in the moment and win."Clay Buchholz (1-2) allowed a leadoff home run to Coco Crisp and nothing else in 5 1-3 innings as the Red Sox snapped the longest road losing streak to start a season in franchise history.Despite building a 5-1 lead, there were some tense moments late for the Red Sox. Crisp's one-out RBI single off Bobby Jenks in the eighth inning cut Boston's lead to three runs, but Jenks recovered by striking out Daric Barton. Jonathan Papelbon escaped the jam by striking out David DeJesus.The A's added another run in the ninth on Landon Powell's RBI single before Papelbon got pinch-hitter Josh Willingham and Cliff Pennington to end the game for his third save."We didn't take advantage of some situations when we had them," Oakland manager Bob Geren said. "We had some of our better hits up in certain situations and didn't necessarily come through. We had our chances, we did."Gonzalez (2-1) came into the game having thrown 17 straight scoreless innings and having allowed only one run in three starts for an 0.47 ERA. But he allowed an RBI single to Carl Crawford in the second, a solo homer to Youkilis in the fourth and the two-run shot by Lowrie in the sixth in a rare off performance for an Oakland starter.In the previous turn through the rotation, A's starters gave up just one earned run in 33 2-3 innings for an 0.27 ERA. Gonzalez was touched for four runs and eight hits in six innings in a game played in a steady rain."It's definitely a little bit of pressure," Gonzalez said. "It was kind of a tough act to follow. ... These guys were swinging. They weren't going to let us go and just walk over them. That's a tough team to keep down. If you make a mistake they're going to make you pay for it and that's exactly what they did."Gonzalez had good stuff as evidenced by his nine strikeouts but was done in by the homers from Youkilis and Lowrie as the A's lost for just the sixth time in their past 24 home games against Boston.J.D. Drew added his first homer of the season, a solo shot, in the seventh off Jerry Blevins to help the Red Sox win for the fourth time in five games after a 2-10 start."Now we can just sort of relax a little bit and not have to worry about how we haven't won on the road," Buchholz said. "I think everybody swung the bats well yesterday and had some good battles at the plate today, scored some runs for us. I think everybody will start turning around and we'll start taking pressure off ourselves and go out and play."Buchholz allowed 10 runs in five innings on the way to a pair of losses in Oakland last season and got off to a rough start in this game as well when Crisp homered to right field on Buchholz's first pitch.But Buchholz stranded a pair of runners in both the second and fifth innings and pitched around Mark Ellis' one-out double in the fourth before being relieved by Daniel Bard with the bases loaded and one out in the sixth inning.Bard struck out Pennington and then escaped the jam by retiring Crisp on a popup. Crisp's out came one pitch after his line drive to left field landed just inches foul."That was the game right there," Francona said. "The game can be won in the sixth or the seventh. For me that was it. He came in and stopped it. We started it back up again, but that's what he's there for."Buchholz allowed one run and six hits in 5 1-3 innings.Notes: Ellis' double in the fourth was the 200th of his career. Ellis also made Oakland's major league-worst 20th error in the top of that inning when he dropped a ball on a potential force at second. ... Lowrie was 2 for 4 and is batting .480 this season against lefties. ... Crisp's homer was just the eighth of the season for the A's. ... LHP David Purcey, acquired from Toronto earlier in the week, made his Oakland debut with two perfect innings of relief. ... This marked the 99th anniversary of the first game played at Fenway Park, a 7-6 Boston win in 11 innings over the Yankees in 1912.

Clippers have more to prove in first clash of 2016-17 with Warriors

Clippers have more to prove in first clash of 2016-17 with Warriors

LOS ANGELES – On the scale of NBA regular-season epic, Warriors-Clippers on Wednesday night rates a solid 8 for the Warriors. It’s circled on the desk calendars in pencil, a game they want for development and vanity.

For the Clippers, though, it’s a 9.5. Might be a 10. It’s stamped on the calendars embedded in their minds.

They need this game, psychologically, to prove they can stand up to the team that has spent the past two seasons winning a championship and setting a record for regular-season wins, simultaneously suppressing the notion of the Clippers being legitimately elite.

Los Angeles also needs to win the clash at Staples Center if these Western Conference titans are to reignite what once was the hottest rivalry in the NBA.

“We get to see what they do; they get to see what we do,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr says.

“It’s a new four-game journey against this team,” guard Stephen Curry says. “We have history that, when you play in the division, year after year, we’re fighting for the same goal of not only winning the division but playoff seeding and coming out of the west. It’s been a nice little back and forth.”

It has been mostly forward for the Warriors, generally backward for the Clippers.

A rivalry is defined somewhat by geography but mostly by hostilities over both the regular season and the postseason. In the very best rivalries, the teams are hunting the same bounty and end up exchanging feelings of ecstasy and heartbreak.

That has been missing the past two seasons, with the Warriors winning seven of the eight games and the last six in a row. It has been Curry over Chris Paul, Draymond Green over Blake Griffin, Klay Thompson over J.J. Redick and Kerr over Clippers coach Doc Rivers.

The contempt that began percolating back in 2012, reaching its apex in 2014 during a spellbinding seven-game playoff series won by LA, has been submerged by this wave of Warriors success.

The “rivalry” has declined considerably, leaving nothing but memories of the days when the teams were striving to reach the same level.

“We were a team trying to break through and make the playoffs,” Klay Thompson says. “They were trying to do the same thing, as far as trying to make noise in the playoffs. We both had an edge to ourselves and we haven’t lost it. They’re still hungry to get to that championship level. You can see that. And so are we.”

Curry traces the origin of the rivalry to Paul’s arrival in December 2011. The decorated point guard brought instant credibility to a franchise that had been every bit as much of a laughingstock as had the Warriors.

“When CP got there and the organization took a different turn, for the better obviously,” Curry recalls. “It was probably that first year we both made the playoffs (2012-13) because the records were a lot better than they usually were and there was a little more excitement around the new and up-and-coming teams.”

Games have featured ejections, multiple technical fouls – once in a preseason game – with an overdose of grabbing and posturing. One beef went postgame, nearly becoming physical in a hallway near the locker rooms.

There has been verbal warfare, sarcasm and slights and insults, though most of it lately has come from LA.

With the Warriors at 18-3 and the Clippers at 16-6, this may be the last season to reignite the conflict, and the first of four meetings will provide a sense of placement. The Warriors are 18-3, having won 14 of their last 15. The Clippers are 16-6, having lost four of their last six.

“It’ll be fun to see how it plays out,” Kerr says.

The Clippers, however, showed up for this season with a sense of urgency. Paul and Griffin both have opt-out clauses and will be free agents in July. The perennial All-Stars have been teammates for five-plus seasons, but this may be the last.

“Their continuity is really key; it’s one of the things that has helped us the last couple years,” Kerr says. “When you have basically the same team for a while, and you’re already a good team, you tend to get better. You tend to grow more and more comfortable with what you’re already doing and then, maybe even have the ability to add on some things.”

So maybe it’ll be different this season. Maybe we’ll have actual back-and-forth.

“They could be a team down the road that we need to get through to get where we want to go, and they probably see us the same way,” Curry says.

Oh, there is no doubt about that, certainly not among the Clippers.

A's reeling after death of minor league video coordinator Mark Smith

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A's reeling after death of minor league video coordinator Mark Smith

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — A’s officials at the winter meetings carried heavy hearts Tuesday following the death of minor league video coordinator Mark Smith.

Smith died unexpectedly Monday in Arizona at the age of 41. No cause of death was known, a team spokesperson said, and the A’s traveling contingent at the meetings were still processing the news Tuesday night.

“We’re still sort of absorbing this whole thing. As you can imagine this came as a shock to everybody,” said Billy Beane, the A’s executive vice president of baseball operations. “He had such a commitment to the organization and was such a diligent worker. He’s a tremendous loss. Everybody thought the world of him as an employee, a person. It’s shocking.”

Smith worked for the A’s for eight years and was instrumental in creating the team’s minor league video department in 2009. Manager Bob Melvin, who crossed paths with Smith every spring at the team’s minor league training complex, said Smith went above and beyond the expectations of his job to help everyone in the organization.

“He was the first guy you saw,” Melvin said. “Just a great guy that everybody felt close to. He couldn’t do enough to help wherever he could. … He’d send me video during the year of guys he thought I might see at some point, and I never even asked for them. Just a hard-working guy who was very aware of what each guy he was working with was looking for and needed.”

Funeral services are pending.