Giants eye series win behind healthy Lincecum

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Giants eye series win behind healthy Lincecum

July 28, 2011

GIANTS (60-44) vs.
PHILADELPHIA (65-38)

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

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- The San Francisco Giants are getting the offensive help that could significantly increase their chances of successfully defending their World Series title.

Six-time All-Star Carlos Beltran could be in the Giants' lineup Thursday night for the decisive series finale against the NL East-leading Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

The NL West-leading Giants (60-44) acquired the slugger from the New York Mets after Beltran approved the trade Wednesday. San Francisco is expected to send prized pitching prospect Zachary Wheeler to New York in return. Beltran is in the final year of a 119 million deal he signed with the Mets before the 2005 season. The Mets reportedly will pay as much as 4 million of the 6.5 million left on his contract.

"Having a guy like Beltran, obviously, adds a lot of positive energy," said All-Star Brian Wilson, who recorded his major league-leading 32nd save in Wednesday's 2-1 win over Philadelphia.

Beltran is batting .289 with 15 homers, 66 RBIs and a .513 slugging percentage, and he leads the NL with 30 doubles. He would certainly help the Giants, who rank near the bottom of the majors with a .241 batting average and 66 home runs.

"Our offense has been inconsistent and we need some help," manager Bruce Bochy told the Giants' official website. "There was a little sense of urgency to see if we could do something to help this offense get going.

"Carlos has all the tools that you look for in a player."

Though he is batting .337 with five homers and 22 RBIs his last 24 games, Beltran has hit .200 (4 for 20) with three RBIs at Citizens Bank Park this season.

The Giants hope Beltran's presence will help them catch the Phillies (65-38), who own the best record in the majors. Without him, Aaron Rowand and Nate Schierholtz each drove in runs and Matt Cain pitched seven solid innings after Tim Lincecum was scratched from his scheduled start because of an illness.

RELATED: Giants to start Lincecum tonight against Phillies

Lincecum (8-8, 2.90 ERA) is strong enough to pitch Thursday. The two-time Cy Young Award winner is 2-1 with a 3.17 ERA in seven regular-season outings against the Phillies. He went 1-1 with a 3.21 ERA in two starts versus Philadelphia in the 2010 NL championship series before pitching in relief in the pennant-clinching win Oct. 23.

Dominic Brown drove in the lone run and had one of the four hits Wednesday for the Phillies, who have dropped two of three after winning five in a row.

"Any time you play the Giants with that pitching, it figures to be low scoring," Wednesday's loser Cole Hamels said.

Scheduled Philadelphia starter Kyle Kendrick (5-4, 3.45 ERA) is 1-0 with a 2.63 ERA his last three starts - all Philadelphia wins. He allowed three runs on a pair of homers in 5 2-3 innings and did not factor in an 8-6 win over San Diego on Saturday.

In the right-hander's only previous start versus San Francisco on May 2, 2008, Kendrick gave up three runs in six innings of a 6-5, 10-inning win.

Graveman takes to leadership role while Gray is sidelined

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Graveman takes to leadership role while Gray is sidelined

MESA, Ariz. — Kendall Graveman feels comfortable with the leadership role that comes with being the A’s Opening Night starter, but he pointed out how all the starters will carry the load together.

“I told BoMel this morning when he told me, I said ‘I’m the No. 1 starter for Opening Night, but then whoever is the second guy is the No. 1 starter for us the next night,’ and that’s the way we have to go about it to be successful,” Graveman said Thursday afternoon.

That’s a message that Graveman says he’s already trying to spread to Sean Manaea and Jharel Cotton, the starters who will follow him in the rotation. Oakland’s final two rotation spots are up for grabs.

With Sonny Gray sidelined by injury for what’s expected to be most of April, Graveman — with all of 52 major league starts under his belt — becomes the veteran leader of the A’s staff in the interim. Manager Bob Melvin gave Graveman the official word Thursday morning that he would take the ball April 3 against the Angels at the Coliseum. But shortly after Gray went down with a strained lat muscle March 7, Melvin approached Graveman about being his likely Opening Night guy.

It’s a natural fit. Graveman went 10-11 with a 4.11 ERA last season, and while those aren’t eye-catching numbers, they don’t tell the story of how valuable he was as the A’s lost starter after starter to injury.

Graveman has improved his mental preparation and his physical conditioning since coming over from Toronto in the Josh Donaldson trade. He’s become a meticulous studier to get ready for his starts. He’s picked the brain of veterans such as Gray and Barry Zito, who he played alongside with Triple-A Nashville for part of 2015.

And, not to be overlooked, his stuff and pitch arsenal have improved since he first arrived to the A’s. Though he’s a sinkerballer who relies more on location than velocity, the A’s clocked Graveman as high as 98 miles per hour on the radar gun in his last start.

“He’s kind of on a mission to be one of those guys that pitches at top of the rotation for many years to come,” Melvin said.

Kevin Durant makes strides at Warriors practice: 'It's a good sign'

Kevin Durant makes strides at Warriors practice: 'It's a good sign'

Kevin Durant has been making steady progress in his rehab.

And on Thursday, he took another step forward.

"Did a little bit more today. Went through some 5-on-0 stuff, some lateral movement," Steve Kerr told reporters after practice. "Seems like he makes a knew stride each day. It's a good sign, but the four-week mark is a week from now so that's really when we'll have our first real update."

Durant sprained the MCL in his left knee and sustained a tibial bone bruise on Feb. 28 in Washington.

The following day, the Warriors announced that he would be reevaluated in four weeks.

Kerr also said that Durant will travel on Golden State's road trip to Houston and San Antonio next week.

More to come...