Zito outstanding as Giants take series from Dodgers


Zito outstanding as Giants take series from Dodgers


SAN FRANCISCO In perhaps the most important game for both clubs so far in 2012, a pair of Cy Young Award winners were set to duel in the rubber match of the Giants-Dodgers series, as the longtime rivals battle for the NL West Division crown.One of them, Barry Zito, resembled the hurler that took home pitchings most prestigious honor in 2002. The other, 2011 winner Clayton Kershaw, never made it out of the training room.Zito was brilliant in 6.1 shutout innings while Kershaw was a late scratch with a sore hip as the Giants took the game and the series with a 4-0 win over Los Angeles on Sunday evening in front of a sellout crowd and national television audience. They lead the Dodgers by five and a half games with just 22 left to play after winning two of three this weekend.Hunter Pences two-out, two-run double in the first inning set the tone, while Angel Pagan and Buster Posey provided key hits in the middle innings, including Poseys 20th home run of the season. But it was Zitos performance that trumped all else.I thought he did a nice job of throwing the ball to both sides of the plate. His curveball was great, he was able to throw it backdoor to righties, and back foot, said Posey, who caught Zito for the second time in his last four starts. Overall, it seemed like he pitched with a lot of confidence. He did a great job.Sergio Romo, who closed out the game, said: He aint backing down from those guys, and he aint backing down from anybody, so he came out today ready to rock. Thats just the attitude we all have. We understand and honestly believe were pretty dang good. Were just going to go out and play and do that, and Barry is a great example of that attitude.Zito surrendered a double to Mark Ellis to start the game, but after getting out of that inning unscathed, settled in nicely. He scattered four hits and walked three while striking out four, and was never really in trouble until he allowed two baserunners with one out in the top of the seventh.When Bruce Bochy called upon Santiago Casilla, the AT&T Park crowd showed its appreciation for Zitos performance with a standing ovation.That was nice. The crowd was electric tonight, and very involved, said Zito, who secured his 11th win against eight losses. Every pitch in the game, we just have the best atmosphere in baseball here.Zito was also grateful for Casilla, who struck out pinch hitter Bobby Abreu and later got Shane Victorino to fly out to left with the bases loaded to end the seventh.The bullpen has just been outstanding, he said. Casilla came in and really slammed the door there with one out and two runners on against the heart of the lineup. For Bochy to manage the bullpen the way he has, he doesnt get enough credit. Its not easy in the first place.While no one would admit that Kershaws absence was a relief, the Giants were surely fortunate to face righty Joe Blanton rather than the Dodgers ace. Kershaw was 5-0 against the Giants last season, and while hes just 1-3 against them this year, still sports a miniscule 1.74 ERA in 31 innings pitched against San Francisco in 2012.Hes one of the best pitchers in the game. We havent done a lot with him, Bochy said. We have found ways to get wins against him, but thats because the guy pitching for us has done a great job in the game hes pitched. We still had our work cut out, Blantons a good pitcher. Hes been around and knows what hes doing, and sure, when you dodge Kershaw you dont mind, but at the same time they have a lot of depth out there. We went into this game knowing we still had work to do.Pence is plenty familiar with Blanton, as the two started the season on the Philadelphia Phillies roster before they were dealt to the West Coast. His clutch first inning hit, after Posey had struck out, was clearly the biggest offensive moment in the game.When youre facing Joe, I knew he was going to probably come in with some fastballs, and he has a good cutter and good slider, Pence said. Thats what I was getting ready for.Bochy said: Especially once they got Buster there, its about picking each other up, and Pence came through with that double. To get an early lead, thats what youre always hoping for. Those two-out hits are what win ball games for you. He came through there, and I think it helps guys relax.While a five-and-a-half game lead with less than a month to go in the season could be viewed as insurmountable, the Giants arent acting like theyve accomplished anything just yet.This was a big series, Posey said. I thought we came out and played well. Today was a huge game. Again, you cant say enough about the performance Zito had. We do have a decent amount of baseball left to play, so we have to keep going and keep pushing.Zito said: We certainly cant rest on our laurels. We have to fight every day, and thats something weve been doing in spite of people weve been losing with injuries and other things. We cant take anything for granted.

Rewind: Shorthanded Penguins stun Sharks in late comeback

Rewind: Shorthanded Penguins stun Sharks in late comeback

PITTSBURGH – The primary reason the Sharks made the additions and subtractions they did in the offseason was to match up better against a swift-skating team like Pittsburgh, which won last June’s Stanley Cup Final by playing a game based on speed.

If the first rematch is any indication, even a dramatically shorthanded Penguins team can still get the job done against San Jose.

Despite no Sidney Crosby, no Kris Letang, no Matt Murray, no Conor Sheary, and no third defense pair of Olli Maatta and Derrick Poulliot for the third period, the Penguins stormed from behind to give the Sharks a 3-2 loss on Thursday night at PPG Paints Arena. All of the Penguins’ goals came in the third period after they trailed 2-0 to start the final frame.

For the second time in four games on their road trip, the Sharks controlled play through two periods. That was enough against lowly Columbus last Saturday, but not against the Penguins, who got goals from Evgeni Malkin, Scott Wilson and Patric Hornqvist in span of eight minutes and 15 seconds in the third.

“Let them hang around a little bit, which is something we’ve done lately,” Pete DeBoer said. “Had some opportunities to extend it, and didn’t. Probably deserved to be up by more, but we weren’t. That’s what happens.”

San Jose got goals from Tomas Hertl and Patrick Marleau in the second period, a period that saw them outshoot the Penguins, 17-4. Shots were 27-10 overall through 40 minutes.

They started well in the third, too, when Mikkel Boedker drew a trip on Malkin at 4:10. Just after the ensuing power play had expired, Boedker was staring at a wide open net after slick seam pass from Joonas Donskoi, but fired wide.

Malkin scored 30 seconds later, and the comeback was on.

“Just missed it. It’s a tough shot when it comes from the other way, but [Donskoi] made a good pass,” Boedker said. “It’s one of those you want to put in, and when things are going the right way, they come in bunches. … Obviously it sucks, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.”

After Malkin’s goal, and another by Wilson tied it, the Sharks took a pair of minor penalties. Paul Martin was called for a delay of game that was killed off, but Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s slash on Bryan Rust resulted in Hornqvist’s winner with less than six minutes to go in regulation.

Joe Pavelski didn’t seem to like either call, indicating that Martin’s errant clearing attempt hit a Penguins stick on its way out, and the Vlasic slash late a tie game is a call “that you don’t always see.”

Hornqvist got a couple fortunate bounces on his goal, too. He took control of the puck in front of the net after it hit Joel Ward’s foot, and his shot attempt deflected in off of Martin’s skate.

“They got a bounce or two more, but the position we were in, it shouldn’t matter how many bounces they get,” Pavelski said. “We’ve got to seal that game.”

The captain expressed disappointment over the fact that the Sharks squandered a chance to move to 4-1-0 on the season, which would be an accomplishment considering their early peripatetic schedule in which they played just one home game before traveling east.

That outweighed any sort of revenge factor that might have been on the minds of the players that were defeated by Pittsburgh in the Final last spring.

“The biggest thing is we were playing for a 4-1 record going into that third [period]. Not because it was the Penguins,” Pavelski said. “It’s early in the year and it’s not easy to start coming on the road with all these games. Now we’re staring at 3-2, and we move on. It would have been nice to beat them, for sure, but the best thing would have been for that record.”

The Sharks can still conclude their five-game trip with a winning mark by beating Detroit on Saturday.

DeBoer said: “We’re not going to overreact. We played very good hockey for large amounts of this game. Learn from it, and move forward.”

Instant Replay: Sharks blow lead in Cup rematch with Penguins

Instant Replay: Sharks blow lead in Cup rematch with Penguins


PITTSBURGH – It wasn’t the Stanley Cup Final, but it was a disappointing defeat for the Sharks against the Penguins nonetheless, as Pittsburgh stormed back from a two-goal deficit in the third period to stun San Jose, 3-2.

The game-winner came from Patric Hornqvist. On a Pittsburgh power play, he found a loose puck and swiped it in off of Paul Martin's skate with 5:58 left in regulation.

The Penguins trailed 2-0 to start the third, but Evgeni Malkin got them on the board. After the Sharks were caught scrambling in front of their own net, Malkin took control of the disc in the high slot. He spun around and flicked it through Martin Jones at 6:47.

A little more than two minutes later, Hornqvist drilled Brenden Dillon on the corner, jarring the puck loose from the wall. Scott Wilson grabbed it, swooped towards the crease and slipped it though at 9:01 to knot the game at 2-2.

The Sharks (3-2-0) fell to 2-2 on their five-game road trip, which concludes with their final visit to Joe Louis Arena in Detroit on Saturday.

San Jose scored twice in a dominant second period in which it outshot Pittsburgh, 17-4.

Tomas Hertl’s second goal in as many games opened the scoring. He got to the front of the net and poked in a Joe Pavelski rebound at 5:04 after goalie Marc-Andre Fleury lost control of his stick while making a save on Brent Burns moments earlier.

Patrick Marleau created the second goal at 16:15, stripping Chris Kunitz of the puck at the blue line and finishing off a give-and-go with Logan Couture for his second of the year.

Prior to Marleau’s marker, the Penguins had a power play goal waved off. On a power play, Phil Kessel directed a rebound towards the net, and it rattled around off of the post and Jones’ left pad. Hornqvist directed it in, but a video review showed it illegally went in off of his glove and not his stick with 6:41 left in the period.

San Jose was 28-0-2 last season when leading after two periods, and 9-0 in the playoffs.

Special teams

The Sharks allowed one power play goal in five Penguins advantages, and were 0-for-3 on the power play.

Mikkel Boedker had a chance to essentially seal the win on a third period advantage for the Sharks, but couldn’t bury a Joonas Donskoi pass into an empty net. Malkin brought the Penguins back to within a goal moments later.

San Jose killed off a Martin delay of game penalty at 10:17 of the third to keep it 2-2, but Marc-Edouard Vlasic's slash led to Hornqvists's goal.

In goal

Jones fell to 2-2 on the season with three goals allowed on 20 shots.

Marc-Andre Fleury got the win with 32 saves. Starter Matt Murray remains out with a hand injury.


Pittsburgh was down to four defensemen by the end of the game, as Olli Maatta and Derrick Pouliot were forced from action in the second period.

The Penguins were without several key pieces to start the game, including Murray, best defenseman Kris Letang, and the best player in the world, Sidney Crosby.

Matt Nieto returned to the lineup in place of Micheal Haley on the fourth line. Nieto was a healthy scratch on Tuesday against the Islanders.

Up next

After Saturday’s game in Detroit, the Sharks finally play their second game at SAP Center on Tuesday, Oct. 25 against Anaheim in the first of a three-game homestand. Columbus and Nashville also visit.