Giants swept as Braves rally vs. Wilson in 10th

453546.jpg

Giants swept as Braves rally vs. Wilson in 10th

April 24, 2011BOXSCORE GIANTSVIDEOMLBPAGE MLBSCOREBOARD
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) All those times Brian Wilson and his bushy, black beard strutted around AT&T Park after wins last postseason was enough for the Atlanta Braves.They made sure there was no encore Sunday.Nate McLouth hit a two-run single off Wilson with two outs in the 10th inning, and the Braves beat the San Francisco Giants 9-6 for a three-game sweep in a rematch of last season's NL division series."The environment in here is really second to none. So to walk out of here with a sweep, it's something not a lot of teams do," McLouth said. "And we did it."The Braves beat ace Tim Lincecum, postseason nemesis Madison Bumgarner and Wilson over the three games to highlight a weekend at San Francisco's waterfront ballpark they won't soon forget.The finale had contributions from all over: Jason Heyward hit a three-run homer and a double, then singled in the 10th. Dan Uggla homered and Chipper Jones had a two-run double, single and walked twice on his 39th birthday.The result was Atlanta's first sweep of any kind in San Francisco since 1998."You win three games off the world champs," Jones said, "and confidence is at a different level."Heyward and Jones started the 10th inning with singles against Wilson (0-1) before Uggla walked to load the bases. Wilson got two quick outs and nearly escaped the jam before McLouth's grounder up the middle provided the go-ahead runs. Brian McCann added an RBI single off Dan Runzler.Eric O'Flaherty (1-1) pitched two innings for the win and Jonny Venters earned his first save of the season.Buster Posey had a two-run homer and Aaron Rowand hit a two-run double to help the Giants erase a three-run deficit and take a 6-5 lead in the seventh. But the World Series champions couldn't match their postseason magic from a year ago, when they beat the Braves in four games en route to the title - including saves by Wilson in Games 3 and 4."We know we're not playing Giants baseball right now," said Wilson, who led the majors with 48 saves last season. "We're scuffling a little bit, but we're still right in the thick of things. (Our record) is not horrible considering the kind of games we have lost. We just need to get on a good role and start remembering how to play good baseball."Atlanta came out hot from the start.Jones hit a two-run double that zipped past diving third baseman Pablo Sandoval in the first inning to give the Braves a 2-0 lead. Then Giants starter Jonathan Sanchez found his groove and showed no signs of a flu bug that forced him to have intravenous fluids a day earlier. He struck out five and allowed two hits and three walks in five innings.Braves starter Brandon Beachy retired the first 11 batters with relative ease until Aubrey Huff hit a towering double off the right-field wall and Posey followed with a home run in the fourth.Giants reliever Jeremy Affeldt walked two batters in the seventh before Heyward - the runner-up to Posey for the NL Rookie of the Year last season - hit his fifth home run to put Atlanta ahead 5-2.The Giants came back with three consecutive singles off reliever Jairo Asencio. Miguel Tejada walked to drive in a run, Nate Schierholtz had an RBI grounder and Rowand's double put San Francisco ahead.Uggla led off the eighth with a tying homer against Sergio Romo for his fifth shot of the season. The Braves bullpen held the Giants scoreless from there until their bats broke through against Wilson in extra innings."I don't even know how to start," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Let's get out of here because it looks like that club was starting to get hot."NOTES: Atlanta's Brandon Hicks made his first major league start in place of shortstop Alex Gonzalez. Gonzalez came in the game in the seventh. ... Jones has a .435 batting average (20 for 46) with 12 RBIs on his birthday. ... Giants CF Andres Torres (strained left Achilles' tendon) and RHP reliever Santiago Casilla (inflamed pitching elbow) will travel to Arizona on Monday to rehabilitate and perhaps play in some extended spring training games. Manager Bruce Bochy said it was unlikely either would join the team during the upcoming 10-game road trip. ...

David West is coming up big for the Warriors

David West is coming up big for the Warriors

OAKLAND -- David West is as much a cleanup man as he is a basketball player.

The veteran power forward, masquerading as a center for the Warriors, cleans up behind teammates, cleans the clocks of opponents and probably cleans his plate after every meal. And he’d hit fourth in any manager’s batting order.

The Warriors during their renaissance haven’t had such a personality. They’ve been a fun bunch, enjoying life, each other and their pillaging of the NBA.

West, 36, brings a more laconic dynamic, and it’s on full display as the Warriors lean into the final weeks of this regular season. He’s a leader who is producing and, more and more, winning over a fan base that was somewhat skeptical early this season.

“David West has been playing brilliantly,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Friday night, after West came off the bench for a highly efficient 14-minute stint in a 114-100 win over the Kings.

Showcasing sharp passing, splendid shooting, solid rim protection and his usual old-jerky toughness, West totaled 8 points, four assists, three rebounds, three blocks and one steal. The Warriors were plus-8 when he was on the floor.

Such production, it seems, is a bit of a bonus.

“He’s been very good for us as a veteran leader,” Draymond Green said. “He’s been playing well, but just his presence also has meant a lot to this team.

“D-West is just kind of a no-bull---- type of a guy. He doesn’t say much. But when he does, you know it means a lot. And everybody hears him.”

Said West: “It’s just about adjusting and learning personalities. Obviously, this group has been very successful. I just try to add my 2 cents where I feel like it fits. Try not to over-talk people. I speak to guys directly and just make sure that we’re all on the same page.”

West is in his 14th season. Drafted by the New Orleans Hornets in 2003, he also has played for the Pacers and, last season, the Spurs, before joining the Warriors in July.

The question at the time was whether he still had a lot to give. West is a two-time All-Star and one of the most widely respected players in the league. But did he still have the legs to compete at a high level?

The answer is visible, particularly over the past month, since he returned from fractured left thumb on Feb. 23. West is shooting 53.0 percent from the field, he’s rebounding consistently and he has proven to be a spectacularly good passer -- easily one of the best in the league among big men.

Earlier this week, to quell any lingering concerns about how much athleticism he still has, West rose up and dunked over a crowd of three Dallas Mavericks. It was clock-cleaning at its finest.

“I’m just getting more comfortable,” West said, referring to his game and his locker-room influence. “We’ve developed good chemistry, communicating, harping on our defense more than anything else at this moment, because we feel that’s going to give us a chance if shots aren’t falling.”

West is on a one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum, $1.55 million. He sacrificed bigger dollars for a chance at his first championship. He’s doing his part. And he neither takes nor leaves any mess.

Dempsey hat trick lifts US over Honduras in statement win

dempsey-usa.jpg
AP

Dempsey hat trick lifts US over Honduras in statement win

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE — Bruce Arena's return as U.S. coach reignited American confidence, and his players responded with an emphatic rebound in World Cup qualifying.

Clint Dempsey returned from an irregular heartbeat to score his second international hat trick, 18-year-old phenom Christian Pulisic had one goal and set up three others, and the U.S. routed Honduras 6-0 Friday night to get right back in contention for an eighth straight World Cup berth.

Surprise starter Sebastian Lletget got his first international goal in the fifth minute after Pulisic's shot deflected off the goalkeeper, Michael Bradley doubled the lead in the 27th and Dempsey scored off Pulisic's perfectly weighted chip in the 32nd.

Finding room to maneuver in a central midfield role, Pulisic made it 4-0 just 12 seconds into the second half with his fourth international goal, Dempsey rounded the keeper to score following a Pulisic feed in the 49th, and Dempsey got another on a 23-yard free kick in the 54th. With 55 international goals, Dempsey moved within two of Landon Donovan's American record.

In its first competitive match since Arena replaced Jurgen Klinsmann, the U.S. moved from last to fourth in the final round of the North and Central American and Caribbean region, tied at three points with Honduras but ahead on goal difference, Mexico leads with seven points, followed by Costa Rica with six and Panama with four.

The top three nations qualify for next year's tournament in Russia, and the fourth-place nation advances to a playoff. With a victory at Panama on Tuesday, the Americans could move into the top three.

The U.S. had never before won a hexagonal game by more than three goals.

And oh how the American Outlaws and others among the lively home crowd loved every second of this long-awaited showing, chanting "Michael Bradley!" and "Demp-sey! Demp-sey!" through the Bay Area rain and cool March air.

Then, it was "Bruce Arena! Bruce Arena!"

Gloom descended upon the Americans in November when they opened the hexagonal with a 2-1 home loss to Mexico and a 4-0 wipeout at Costa Rica. The defeats caused the U.S. Soccer Federation to fire Klinsmann, who had coached the Americans since 2011, and bring back Arena, who lead the team from 1998-2006.

Dempsey, 34 and hoping to reach a fourth World Cup, was sidelined from August until this month by an irregular heartbeat and likely was starting only because of injuries to Bobby Wood and Jordan Morris. Tim Howard, the Americans' 38-year-old goalkeeper, got the shutout after returning only two weeks ago from a leg injury sustained in the loss to Mexico.

Geoff Cameron, back from a knee strain that had sidelined him for fourth months, was shifted to right back from central defense because of injuries to others, and Jorge Villafana was inserted on the left.

But there were yet more injuries. Lletget hurt his left ankle on Ever Alvarado's tackle and was replaced in the 18th minute, and defender John Brooks was stretchered off the field, hand over his face, in the 69th due to dehydration.

From the opening whistle, the U.S. played more aggressively than in the latter years of Klinsmann's reign. Arena revamped the midfield, giving a prominent role to Pulisic, who last week became the youngest American to score in the Champions League. He inserted Lletget and Nagbe, who were largely overlooked by Klinsmann last year, on the flanks.

The U.S. went ahead when Jozy Altidore picked up a loose ball and on his second try poked the ball ahead to Pulisic. His left-footed shot that went off goalkeeper Donis Escobar, and Lletget tapped in the ball with his right foot from 2 yards.

Bradley, given his debut by Arena in 2006, doubled the lead when he took a pass from Alejando Bedoya, cut to his left, took four touches and cut the ball back to beat Escobar with one-hopper from about 25 yards.

Showing poise beyond his years, Pulisic created the third goal when he lofted a pass to Dempsey, who allowed the ball of bounce off his right shoulder. Dempsey held off Henry Figueroa and while falling scored with his right foot from 8 yards.