'Awful' Giants kick off three game set in Big Apple

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'Awful' Giants kick off three game set in Big Apple

May 3, 2011

GIANTS (13-15) vs.
NY METS (12-16)

Coverage begins at 3:30 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area

NEW YORK (AP) -- R.A. Dickey is becoming familiar with the New York Mets' struggles at the plate, but their most recent effort may be cause for some optimism.

The San Francisco Giants don't appear to have any of that offensively.

Dickey and the Mets will try to take advantage of the Giants' slump when they open a three-game series at Citi Field on Tuesday night.

The Giants (13-15) have dropped eight of 11 while hitting .203 and scoring two runs or fewer in eight of those contests, including three shutouts.

The reigning World Series champions were outscored 11-4 while losing three of four to Washington, capped by Monday's 2-0 loss. The lineup mustered three hits and failed to generate any support for Madison Bumgarner for a third consecutive start.

"There's not much we can do if we're not hitting," manager Bruce Bochy said. "We're awful right now. We know it."

REWIND: Giants' skid continues with three-hit effort in D.C.

Aubrey Huff is one of the main culprits, batting .190 with two homers and 15 RBIs on the season while mired in a 3-for-37 slump with two RBIs over his last 11 games.

The first baseman hit .290 while leading San Francisco with 26 homers and 86 RBIs last season.

"We're not doing anything offensively - including myself," Huff said. "We're all struggling. I'm the worst of it."

Huff is hitting .441 (15 for 34) over his past nine meetings with the Mets, but he's just 1 for 6 against the knuckleballer Dickey (1-3, 3.82 ERA).

The right-hander is hoping to snap his own skid. He's 0-3 with a 4.67 ERA over five games - four starts - since allowing one unearned run in six innings of a 9-2 win at Florida in his season debut April 3.

Dickey has received eight total runs of support over his last four starts, getting one Wednesday while yielding two runs in 6 2-3 innings before the Mets (12-16) rallied with a four-run ninth in a 6-3 win at Washington.

"Anytime you're down and you fight back in it, it's good for morale," said Dickey, who was the hard-luck loser in a 2-0 defeat to San Francisco on July 15 after allowing one run in seven innings.

New York's bats have struggled over the last four games, hitting .220 with nine runs while going 4 for 34 with runners in scoring position. They were 1 for 16 in those situations Sunday, leaving 19 men on base, but they collected 14 hits in a 2-1, 14-inning win at Philadelphia, ending a three-game slide.

Ronny Paulino may have earned a second consecutive start after getting a career-high five hits, including an RBI double in the 14th.

"That's pretty impressive, five hits in his first full game," manager Terry Collins said of the catcher, who's played just two games since being activated from the disabled list Friday. He also started the year serving the remainder of a 50-game suspension for violating baseball's drug program with Florida last year.

David Wright is also providing some offensive punch, getting five hits in three games, with three coming Sunday before he scored on Paulino's double. The All-Star third baseman is hitting .338 in 40 career games against the Giants.

San Francisco's Ryan Vogelsong (1-0, 1.74) gets the ball again in place of the injured Barry Zito (foot), and he's trying to build on his first win as a starter since beating New York with Pittsburgh on Sept. 19, 2004.

The right-hander was sharp Thursday, yielding two runs and four hits with eight strikeouts in 5 2-3 innings of a 5-2 victory at Pittsburgh in his first start since 2004.

Giants Notes: Span feeling better, hopes to return to lineup Wednesday

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Giants Notes: Span feeling better, hopes to return to lineup Wednesday

CHICAGO -- Joe Panik's leadoff homer in the series opener was a jolt, but the Giants are a much more dangerous offense when Denard Span is clicking atop the lineup, a spot ahead of Panik, and they hope to have that duo going Wednesday. Span got treatment all day Tuesday and said he could return to the lineup against Kyle Hendricks. 

"The swelling has gone down," Span said of his sprained left thumb. "The thing to do is to come in tomorrow, test it out, and if it feels good, you strap it on."

Span said an X-ray came back clean, but he didn't grab a bat Tuesday to test the thumb, focusing instead on treatment. He is batting .326 in nine games since coming off the DL. His replacement in center this week, Gorkys Hernandez, was 0-for-3 against Jon Lester, lowering his average to .160. 

--- The main story from the second game of this series: Johnny Cueto is now dealing with a second blister, and you can see the lack of movement on his pitches. The Cubs took advantage. Lester didn't need much help while throwing a 99-pitch complete game in two hours and five minutes. 

"He threw a lot more changeups than we've seen in the past," Buster Posey said. "He's shown it in the past but tonight he had good command of it. It wasn't just a show-me pitch. He used it a lot and threw it to lefties as well.

Posey twice grounded short rollers in front of the plate.

--- Posey's throw to nab Javy Baez on Monday was one of the best of the year, and on Tuesday afternoon, Bruce Bochy said, "If he's given a chance, I don't think there's anyone better in the game." That might be true, but Willson Contreras is threatening to get into the conversation. He threw an 85 mph rocket to second in the fifth to nab Eduardo Nuñez. If you're wondering how Lester -- who flat-out has the yips about throwing to first base and doesn't do it -- has allowed just six stolen bases this season, look no further than his young catcher. Long-term, Contreras is the guy I would expect to compete with Posey for Gold Gloves. 

"Nuney, with his speed, can go," Bochy said. "Their catcher made a great throw. Put it right on the money."

--- From before Tuesday's game, what do the relievers think of the new hidden bullpen at Wrigley? And if you missed the Power Rankings the other day, the records are outdated, but there are updates in here on old friends Matt Duffy, Chris Heston, Tommy Joseph, Adalberto Mejia, Yusmeiro Petit and others. Petit in particular is incredible ... just keeps doing his thing. 

--- This play was made by the shortstop. That's good for the old UZR.

Irving fuels Game 4 comeback, Cavs take 3-1 lead over Celtics

Irving fuels Game 4 comeback, Cavs take 3-1 lead over Celtics

BOX SCORE

CLEVELAND -- Kyrie Irving gritted his teeth, tightened up his left sneaker and hopped to his feet.

The pain didn't stop him. The Celtics didn't either.

Irving took over in the second half and finished with 42 points, LeBron James added 34 and the Cleveland Cavaliers moved within one win of an almost inevitable third date in the Finals with Golden State by rallying to beat Boston 112-99 on Tuesday night in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals.

With James in foul trouble, Irving stayed on the floor despite rolling his left ankle in the third quarter, when he scored 19 points in less than five minutes.

"He put us on his back and carried us," Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said.

The defending NBA champions, who shot 71 percent in the second half to open a 3-1 lead in the series, can wrap up their third straight conference title - and a "three-match" against the Warriors - with a win in Game 5 on Thursday night in Boston.

But if Games 3 and 4 are any indication, it won't be easy.

Fighting to keep their season alive, the Celtics aren't giving an inch despite playing without All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas, who may need surgery on a hip injury.

The Cavs, meanwhile, wouldn't be on the cusp of the Finals without Irving.

With Cleveland in jeopardy of dropping its second game in a row after James followed an 11-point Game 3 by picking up four first-half fouls, Irving put on a breathtaking one-man show in the third quarter.

Freezing Boston defenders with his dribble and driving to the basket whenever he wanted, Irving made six layups, two 3-pointers and a free throw in a dizzying span of 4:48. He capped his blistering 19-point outburst with a 3 in the final second of the quarter and celebrated at mid-court by pretending to put two pistols back in his holster.

"Coming out of halftime I just wanted to be aggressive, lead my guys and leave it all out there on the floor," Irving said.

When the horn sounded to end the third, Cleveland's players poured off the bench to greet him. They had to be careful not to knock him off his feet after Irving had put a scare through the frenzied Quicken Loans Arena crowd moments earlier when he stepped on the foot of Boston's Terry Rozier.

Irving stayed on the floor for several seconds before sitting up and re-tying his sneaker. Nothing was keeping him out.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens was disappointed with his team's defense on Irving, who was able to spread the floor while surrounded by shooters.

"There's choices," Stevens said. "I'm not sure there are good choices. When he gets going like that, he's tough to stop. The ones we gotta look at are the ones he got at the rim."

Kevin Love added 17 points and 17 rebounds for the Cavs, now 11-1 in the postseason.

Avery Bradley scored 19 and Jae Crowder 18 for Boston.

Lue chuckled before the game when he was asked if he planned to say anything to James following his sub-standard performance in Game 3.

"No message," Lue said. "Just come out, be aggressive, in attack mode like he has been over the last four or five months. Nothing has changed."

Lue should have warned James to be careful, too, as the superstar picked up four fouls and spent the final 6:46 of the first half watching from the bench, unable to help his team.

But beyond James' foul trouble, the Cavs were having other issues as the Celtics outplayed them at both ends while opening a 16-point lead.

Irving kept Cleveland within striking distance while James was out by scoring 12 points over the final 5:11 of the second quarter.

And in the third quarter, the All-Star guard had James' back again, keeping the Cavs on their collision course with the Warriors.

TIP-INS:
Celtics: Thomas spoke to coach Brad Stevens and told him that he has visited one hip specialist and plans to see more before it's decided if he needs surgery. Thomas initially injured his hip in March and played the final two months of the regular season before aggravating it during the playoffs. ... Stevens started Kelly Olynyk, who had 15 points. ... Before the playoffs began, the Celtics were 22-5 at home since Jan. 1. They're 5-4 in the postseason so far.

Cavaliers: Irving scored 41 in Game 5 of last year's Finals. ... J.R. Smith and his wife, Jewel, brought their daughter home after more than five months in the hospital following her premature birth. Smith posted photos on his Instagram account of the couple leaving Hillcrest Hospital with their baby in a stroller. "We Walked In Together We Walked Out Together!!" Smith wrote. ... Deron Williams played 18 minutes after sustaining a shoulder "stinger" in Game 3.

UP NEXT:
The Celtics lost Game 2 at home by 44 and the first two games of the series by a combined 57.