Giants Insider notes: Nate the Great

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Giants Insider notes: Nate the Great

May 6, 2011
URBANARCHIVEGIANTS PAGE GIANTSVIDEOMychael UrbanCSNBayArea.com
Our MLB Insider takes a look at the Giants' 4-3 win over the visiting Rockies on Friday in the opener of a three-game series at AT&T Park in San Francisco. Nate at night: Hoping a return to the shores of McCovey Cove might somehow provide the impetus for an offensive renaissance, the Giants for the first seven innings looked very much like the same tired bunch that scored four runs during a four-game series in Washington, D.C., last weekend. In the eighth, however, a broken-bat blooper by Buster Posey and a clutch two-out double by Pat Burrell set the stage for Nate Schierholtz, who was batting .368 over his previous eight games. Hitless on the evening, Schierholtz put together a gutsy at-bat against Rockies reliever Rafael Betancourt, fouling off a nasty 2-2 pitch before slashing a game-tying double down the left-field line.

Freshening up: Cody Ross, who had scuffled -- 9-for-45 without an extra-base hit -- in his first 14 games off the disabled list, opted for a new look Friday and showed up at AT&T without his signature beard. Perhaps it makes him more aerodynamic, because he came off the bench to pick up that elusive first double of the season to open the bottom of the ninth inning and scored easily when Freddy Sanchez bounced a single up the middle with one out. Like old times: Matt Cain used to be known as much for being a tough-luck pitcher as for having no-hit stuff, but last year the worm turned and he started to get the kind of support from his teammates that turned his gems into wins instead of no-decisions or losses. It's starting to look like the buzzard is back. Cain wasn't exactly lights-out, but he allowed only seven Rockies to reach base during seven sturdy innings on the way to his third consecutive quality start -- only to head home for the night with his second no-decision (to go with a loss) during that stretch. Jump around: Spring training is over for closer Brian Wilson, who spent most of his time at camp in Scottsdale, Ariz., nursing back and oblique issues instead of honing his mechanics and menacing mound presence. So he's essentially been training on the fly, in big-league games, since coming off the DL. As evidenced by his two most recent outings, including Friday's perfect ninth inning, he finally locked into the form that makes the beard so fearsome. Nice tribute: Not long after the 80th birthday celebration for Willie Mays came to a close, the Giants' current center fielder, Aaron Rowand, made a diving catch to end the bottom of the first inning that brought a wide smile to the face of the Say Hey Kid.

Altidore, Dempsey lead US past Costa Rica, into Gold Cup final at Levi's

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AP

Altidore, Dempsey lead US past Costa Rica, into Gold Cup final at Levi's

BOX SCORE

ARLINGTON, Texas — Clint Dempsey fed Jozy Altidore for the go-ahead goal, then scored on a free kick to match Landon Donovan’s American record with his 57th international goal and lead the United States over Costa Rica 2-0 Saturday night and into the CONCACAF Gold Cup championship game.

Playing in his home state of Texas, the 34-year-old Dempsey entered in the 66th minute and made a perfectly timed through pass six minutes later that allowed Altidore to break in alone and beat Patrick Pemberton with a left-footed shot from 10 yards.

Dempsey doubled the lead in the 82nd minute with a 27-yard shot that went around a four-man defensive wall and got past Pemberton on two bounces.

“I saw the keeper cheating a little bit, and it went in,” Dempsey said.

Dempsey has 136 international appearances, trailing only Cobi Jones (164) and Donovan (157) among American players. The assist was his 20th for the national team.

“Coming back from two heart procedures, being able to still play at this level,” Dempsey said in his Texas twang, “living a dream. So I’m happy.”

Trying for their sixth Gold Cup title and first since 2013, the Americans play Mexico or Jamaica in the final on Wednesday at Santa Clara, California.

The U.S. improved to 8-0-5 since Bruce Arena replaced Jurgen Klinsmann in November and returned for a second stint as national team coach. Arena can become the first coach to win three Gold Cup titles following championships in 2002 and 2005.

Tim Howard got his second straight shutout, making key saves on Marco Urena in the 37th and 71st minutes.

After the second save, Dempsey took a pass from Darlington Nagbe in the center circle, made a cut, and took three touches as he sprinted toward goal. Altidore one-timed a shot for his first national team goal since September and ripped off his No. 27 jersey in a wild celebration, earning a yellow card.

Dempsey’s goal sealed the win, putting the U.S. back in the championship after a shocking semifinal loss to Jamaica two years ago. He was playing for the first time in AT&T Stadium, the $1.2 billion home stadium of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys that is about 180 miles from his hometown of Nacogdoches.

“Congratulations, Clint,” Donovan said while working on the Fox telecast of the game. “Feel free to stop now, we’ll share it together.”

After starting in Wednesday’s quarterfinal win over El Salvador, Dempsey moved to a reserve role against the Ticos. While the U.S. inserted five new starters in a roster rotation, Costa Rica went with the same 11 players who started in Wednesday’s win against Panama.

Costa Rica routed the U.S. 4-0 at home in a World Cup qualifier in November, the final game before Klinsmann was fired and Arena was brought back. And up ahead is another matchup, a qualifier on Sept. 1 at Harrison, New Jersey.

Morris, one of the new starters, hit a post just 11 seconds in.

Just before kickoff, El Salvador defender Henry Romero was suspended for his nation’s next six competitive matches and midfielder Darwin Ceren for the next three, those penalties coming three days after Romero bit Altidore and Ceren bit Omar Gonzalez during the quarterfinal. The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football said the discipline was issued by the Gold Cup disciplinary committee for “anti-sporting behavior.”

A's blow five-run lead, watch Mets walk off with victory

A's blow five-run lead, watch Mets walk off with victory

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK -- Wilmer Flores hit a solo home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, and the New York Mets rallied from an early five-run deficit to beat the Oakland Athletics 6-5 Saturday night for their fourth consecutive victory.

Pinch-hitter Lucas Duda delivered a tying single with two outs in the eighth off left-hander Daniel CoulombeJay Bruce hit a two-run homer in the sixth to begin New York's comeback, and Jose Reyes tripled twice.

Flores connected on a 96 mph fastball from Simon Castro (0-1), sending a line drive to left field for the second game-ending homer of his career. That sent a frenzied crowd of 39,629 home happy - hours after fans lined up early in the heat outside Citi Field to get their Noah Syndergaard as Thor bobbleheads.

Matt Joyce hit a leadoff home run and Matt Chapman added a prodigious shot for Oakland, which scored four in the first off struggling Mets starter Zack Wheeler.

Sean Manaea took a shutout into the sixth but then wilted after throwing a career-high 115 pitches Sunday in his previous start, a win against Cleveland.

Hansel Robles (6-1) tossed a hitless inning to win for the second straight day.

MAN ON THE MOVE:
With Mets second baseman Neil Walker nearing a return from the disabled list, perhaps Monday in San Diego, Asdrubal Cabrera made his first major league start at third and played flawless defense after working out at the position once. Cabrera's only previous appearance at the hot corner came during his rookie season in 2007 with Cleveland. "He's a middle infielder who's going to play third base. Got great hands, great arm. He'll be fine," manager Terry Collins said. Cabrera initially balked at shifting from shortstop to second when he came off the DL about a month ago.

TRAINER'S ROOM:
Athletics: Ryon Healy had a pinch-hit single after getting hit near the left temple by a bad-hop grounder Friday night. Healy went through the concussion protocol and was cleared, manager Bob Melvin said. ... Melvin said he would have news after the game regarding RHP Jharel Cotton, on the DL since July 4 with a blister on his right thumb. Cotton threw a bullpen Friday. Oakland needs a starter for Monday night at Toronto. ... INF-OF Chad Pinder (strained left hamstring) homered Friday on his rehab assignment with Triple-A Nashville and could come off the DL when Oakland begins a homestand next weekend. "That's kind of the target area," Melvin said.

Mets: Walker (left hamstring) went 1 for 3 with Triple-A Las Vegas at Memphis in the first game of rehab assignment. The switch-hitter has been on the DL since June 15. ... LHP Josh Smoker threw a scoreless sixth in his first outing since coming off the disabled list Thursday. Smoker had been sidelined since June 14 with a strained left shoulder.

UP NEXT:
Oakland rookie right-hander Daniel Gossett (1-5, 5.79 ERA) makes his eighth career start in Sunday's series finale against RHP Rafael Montero (1-6, 5.40). Gossett has given up 10 homers in 37 1/3 innings after yielding only four in 60 2/3 innings at Triple-A.