Belt powers Giants to 5-3 win over Dodgers

501510.jpg

Belt powers Giants to 5-3 win over Dodgers

July 19, 2011BOX SCORE GIANTS VIDEOMLB PAGE MLB SCOREBOARDSAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Brandon Belt finally feels comfortable hitting in the majors, and the timing couldn't be better for the San Francisco Giants.Belt capped a solid first day back in the big leagues with a tiebreaking two-run double in the seventh inning and the Giants finally gave Madison Bumgarner some run support at home while beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-3 on Tuesday night.
URBAN: Busy day (and one more win) for Giants
"That was a big goal for me, to bring the confidence that I had down (in the minors) up to the plate up here," said Belt, who also hit a leadoff homer in the second inning. "The first time I was up here I was definitely a little bit overwhelmed but since I've been up here I'm starting to relax a little bit more."Belt was San Francisco's opening-day starter at first base but made two trips to the minors after struggling with his offense. He was called up from Triple-A Fresno earlier in the day to give slumping first baseman Aubrey Huff a rest but instead provided the Giants with a much-needed spark at the plate.Belt went deep in his first at-bat, then was retired in his next two trips to the plate. But he lined a bases-loaded double down the left-field line off reliever Hong-Chih Kuo to put the Giants in front for good."It's good to get a shot in the arm like he gave us tonight," manager Bruce Bochy said. "That's the type of hit we needed. The thing I liked about it was he was aggressive. That's always a good sign for a young kid. Sometimes they're a little tentative but he wasn't."Andres Torres, Mike Fontenot and Pablo Sandoval, the first three batters in San Francisco's lineup, had two hits apiece to help the NL West-leading Giants to their ninth win in 11 games.
RELATED: MLB standings
Rafael Furcal singled in two runs for the Dodgers, who dropped their sixth consecutive game to San Francisco, the longest such streak against the Giants since 1969.Bumgarner (5-9) struck out seven in eight innings, yielding three runs and four hits. The young left-hander retired his final 16 batters and issued no walks for the second straight start.It's the first time in 18 starts at AT&T Park that Bumgarner has received more than three runs of support."I think maybe the games when they didn't score a lot helped me more because I'm able to just go out there and pitch," Bumgarner said. "It was nice to get some tonight, though. It made it a lot easier."Brian Wilson pitched the ninth for his 29th save in 33 chances, helping the Giants increase their lead over Arizona to 4 12 games. Wilson is tied with Atlanta's Craig Kimbrel for the major league lead in saves.Matt Kemp singled with two out but Wilson got pinch-hitter Andre Ethier to fly out, closing a busy day for the defending World Series champs.In addition to bringing up Belt, the Giants acquired second baseman Jeff Keppinger from the Houston Astros for a pair of minor league pitchers and placed infielder Miguel Tejada on the disabled list with a lower abdominal strain."Without being harsh, this group just isn't getting it done," Giants general manager Brian Sabean said. "We need to somehow extend the lineup any way we can, and we think this is an upgrade."Belt's night was exactly what San Francisco needed.He went deep against Rubby De La Rosa leading off the second, then delivered his clutch hit in the seventh after the Dodgers elected to intentionally walk Sandoval and Cody Ross. Los Angeles also botched a pickoff attempt earlier in the inning after Kuo (0-1) threw to first when pinch-runner Emmanuel Burriss broke for second. Burriss easily beat the throw to second, sliding in ahead of the tag by Furcal.San Francisco led 2-0 on Belt's home run and an RBI groundout by Bumgarner.The Dodgers, who were shut out a night earlier by All-Star right-hander Ryan Vogelsong and a pair of relievers, answered with three runs in the third.Tony Gwynn Jr. doubled in James Loney and Juan Rivera added a go-ahead two-run single. Rivera, though, was thrown out trying to scramble back to the bag after taking a wide turn at first.San Francisco opened the fifth with three straight hits off De La Rosa. Sandoval, who has reached base in 27 consecutive games, singled in Torres with the tying run but later left the game with a tightness in his right quad.De La Rosa, who was clocked at 100 mph in the first inning, allowed two earned runs and nine hits over five innings."That's kind of what we're going to see with him," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "He'll have his stuff but then he has the one inning. He threw a lot of pitches for five innings but that's part of growing up."NOTES: Belt's only other home run in the major leagues came against the Dodgers on April 1. ... Furcal's single snapped an 0-for-19 streak. ... Bochy said the Giants will skip LHP Barry Zito's next turn in the rotation Friday. Zito's next start will be against Philadelphia on June 27 or June 28. ... Dodgers INF Marcus Thames cleared waivers and was officially released by the team. ... Dodgers INF Casey Blake (cervical strain) fielded grounders during batting practice and the team is encouraged by his progress. Blake has been on the disabled list since July 3. ... The crowd of 42,391 was a season-high at AT&T Park. The Giants have sold out every home game this year.

Report: Clippers trade Chris Paul to Rockets

Report: Clippers trade Chris Paul to Rockets

A blockbuster trade reportedly went down on Wednesday morning.

The Clippers are sending Chris Paul to the Rockets, according to The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski.

In exchange, Houston will ship Patrick Beverley, Sam Dekker, Lou Williams and a 2018 first-round pick to Los Angeles.

More to come...

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders and a Web Producer at NBC Sports Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller

Knicks, Phil Jackson part ways

dolan-james-jackson-phil.jpg
AP

Knicks, Phil Jackson part ways

NEW YORK -- Phil Jackson is out as New York Knicks president after he oversaw one of the worst eras in team history and feuded with star Carmelo Anthony.

Days after Jackson reiterated his desire to trade Anthony and said he would listen to deals for Kristaps Porzingis, Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan reversed course and cut ties with Jackson on Wednesday.

"After careful thought and consideration, we mutually agreed that the Knicks will be going in a different direction," Dolan said in a statement. "Phil Jackson is one of the most celebrated and successful individuals in the history of the NBA. His legacy in the game of basketball is unmatched."

But his work as a first-time executive was awful. The winner of an NBA-record 11 championships as coach, Jackson couldn't engineer one playoff berth while running the Knicks. The team was 80-166 in his three full seasons, including a franchise-worst 17-65 in 2014-15. His departure was quickly welcomed by Knicks fans such as film director Spike Lee, who posted a picture of himself on Instagram in a celebratory pose after it was first reported by The Vertical.

The move comes less than a week after Jackson led the Knicks through the NBA draft and on the eve of free agency that opens Saturday. Dolan said general manager Steve Mills would run the day-to-day business of the team in the short term.

Jackson was a Hall of Fame coach with the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers, delivering titles with some of the game's biggest stars like Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant. He also played for the Knicks when they won NBA titles in 1970 and 1973.

He was welcomed back to the organization to huge fanfare in March 2014, but it soon became clear the transition would be a poor one. His first coaching hire, Derek Fisher, lasted just 1½ seasons, and Jackson's trades and free agency moves also failed to improve the club.

"I had hoped, of course, to bring another NBA championship to the Garden. As someone who treasures winning, I am deeply disappointed that we weren't able to do that," Jackson said. "New York fans deserve nothing less. I wish them and the Knicks organization all the best - today and always."

The turbulence he created off the court may have led to his departure more than the Knicks' record on it.

Jackson wanted to trade Anthony, the All-Star forward who has two years left on the five-year, $124 million deal that Jackson gave him shortly after taking the job. Anthony has a no-trade clause and has said he wants to stay in New York, and the stalemate that hung over the team for much of last season threatened to linger throughout the summer.

Then he said before the draft that he was listening to offers for Porzingis, the 21-year-old forward from Latvia whom Jackson drafted with the No. 4 pick in 2015 in one of his few successful moves.

Jackson believed the Knicks would compete for a playoff berth last season after he traded for Derrick Rose, signed Joakim Noah and Courtney Lee and hired Jeff Hornacek to coach. But after a solid start, they quickly spiraled toward their familiar position at the bottom of the Eastern Conference and finished 31-51.

Despite all that, Dolan said during an ESPN Radio interview in February that he would allow Jackson to finish his contract, and the sides picked up the mutual two-year option on Jackson's contract.

But the instability involving Anthony and Porzingis threatened to damage the team's ability to lure free agents and may have spurred Dolan's decision. Though he had been intent on keeping Jackson, the dysfunction within the franchise showed no sign of ending even as Jackson, 71, largely stayed out of sight.

He never spoke to the media last season after vowing openness upon taking the job and refused to provide Anthony with the communication he sought.

"It's like a total train wreck ," tennis great and Knicks fan John McEnroe told The Associated Press last week.

"I mean, he's known as the Zen Master, like a master talker, and then he's not talking to anybody," McEnroe said of Jackson. "So this whole thing seems to have gone completely off the rails."

There was also incessant debate about Jackson's insistence that the team employ the triangle offense, which potential incoming players were schooled on during the run-up to last week's NBA draft. The Knicks wound up taking 18-year-old French point guard Frank Ntilikina, who spoke highly of the triangle and Jackson's belief in the scheme.

"I think I can definitely fit with this system," Ntilikina said on draft night.

Not even a week later, the triangle is probably gone, and the Knicks will start anew.

Rose, the 2011 NBA MVP, will be a free agent. Noah - whom Jackson gave a puzzling four-year, $72 million contract last summer - will start the season by finishing out a 20-game suspension for violating the league's anti-drug policy. He averaged 5.0 points and 8.8 rebounds in his first season in New York, shooting just 44 percent from the foul line.