Giants test Lee, taking aim at Phillies' streak

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Giants test Lee, taking aim at Phillies' streak

Aug. 4, 2011

PHILADELPHIA (71-39) vs.
GIANTS (62-49)

Coverage begins at 6:30 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- The big-name acquisitions recently made by the Philadelphia Phillies and San Francisco Giants were intended to improve both clubs' chances in the race for the NL pennant.

However, only one of these teams has looked like a playoff contender of late.

After snapping a five-game skid, the Giants try to prevent Cliff Lee and the Phillies from matching a season high with their seventh consecutive victory Thursday night at AT&T Park.

With the majors' best record and an eight-game lead in the East, Philadelphia (71-39) could be headed to a fifth consecutive division title. The Phillies have averaged 6.7 runs during a six-game winning streak, five with All-Star Hunter Pence in the lineup.

"We've collectively been putting pressure on the other team, getting guys on base and driving guys in when we need to," outfielder Raul Ibanez told the Phillies' official website.

Pence, 1 for 4 for with an RBI in Wednesday's 8-6 win at Colorado, has hit .286 (6 for 21) with three RBIs since being acquired from Houston on Friday.

"I've been pretty fortunate to jump on the team with the best record in baseball," Pence said.

There's little doubt that the right-handed hitting Pence is providing ample protection in the lineup for slugger Ryan Howard, who is 9 for 22 (.409) with four homers and nine RBIs the last five games. Howard hit his 24th home run and had four RBIs on Wednesday.

Pence was not with the Phillies when they dropped two of three at home to the Giants (62-49) last week. Though Philadelphia has lost seven of nine regular season games at AT&T Park and went 1-2 there in last year's NL championship series, San Francisco has dropped eight of 13 and avoided a season-high sixth consecutive defeat with an 8-1 win over Arizona on Wednesday to take a one-game lead over the Diamondbacks in the West.

"I was starting to worry," said Giants infielder Orlando Cabrera, who was acquired from Cleveland on Saturday.

Cabrera, 3 for 15 in four games with his new team, drove in three runs and All-Star Carlos Beltran had three hits with an RBI as the Giants matched their run total from the previous five games. After going 1 for 14 with six strikeouts in his first three games since coming over from the New York Mets last Thursday, Beltran is 7 for 16 (.438) without a strikeout in his last four.

URBAN: Beltran plays MJ for a day

"We have good hitters in our lineup," said Beltran, batting .205 with a homer and five RBIs versus Philadelphia in 2011. "Sometimes we get caught up in trying to do too much."

Beltran is 1 for 8 against Lee (10-7, 3.14 ERA), who faces the Giants in the regular season for the first time since his first stint with the Phillies in 2009. Lee is 3-0 with a 1.13 ERA in the regular season versus San Francisco, but went 0-2 with a 6.94 ERA in the World Series with Texas last season.

After he allowed one run in 42 innings while going 5-0 in June, the left-hander went 1-2 with a 4.91 ERA in five July starts. That lone victory came after he gave up four runs and fanned 11 in 7 2-3 innings of a 7-4 win over Pittsburgh on Saturday.

The Giants will counter with a left-hander of their own in Madison Bumgarner (6-10, 3.80), who allowed three runs in 4 2-3 innings of the Giants' 6-5 win in Game 4 of the NLCS in his only previous start against the Phillies. He also threw two scoreless innings during the pennant-clinching Game 6 victory at Philadelphia.

Bumgarner had allowed five runs over 21 2-3 innings while going 2-0 in his first three starts after the All-Star break before he surrendered seven - including five in the first - in four innings of a 7-2 loss at Cincinnati on Saturday. He has yielded 18 first-inning runs this season.

Warriors eye veteran guard Calderon after release of Weber

Warriors eye veteran guard Calderon after release of Weber

OAKLAND -- Briante Weber’s 20 days with the Warriors came to an end Saturday night, creating a roster opening expected to be filled by veteran point guard Jose Calderon.

“We think we have something in place, but it’s not finalized,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after a 112-95 victory over Brooklyn.

Calderon is in the process to be bought out by the Lakers, after which he will become a free agent. Once he clears waivers, the Warriors, according to multiple sources, will be waiting to offer a physical examination and a contract.

Though Warriors president/general manager Bob Myers stopped short of identifying Calderon by name, his insinuations late Saturday night line up with what was learned from league sources.

“You find that in the playoffs, experience matters,” Myers told CSNBayArea.com.

“I don’t want to diminish (Weber’s) contribution and say he’s not capable,” he added. “He could help a team. But I think sometimes you go with experience when going into the playoffs.”

While Weber is 24, with limited NBA experience, Calderon is 35 and has 12 seasons in the league, including three playoff appearances with two different teams. Moreover, Calderon is a career 41.1-percent 3-point shooter.

Calderon has played sparingly this season and has appeared only once, for five minutes, over the last nine games. In November, his most active month, he played in 11 games, averaging 5.5 points and 3.0 assists while shooting 54.5 percent from the field and 45.0 from beyond the arc.

Not that this made releasing Weber any easier. He had, in a short span of time, become popular with his teammates. Though Weber declined postgame interview requests, Stephen Curry spent a few minutes consoling and encouraging him.

Kerr struggled a bit in announcing that the team was releasing Weber, though the move was made by the front office in consultation with the coaching staff.

“We are making the decision thinking it’s the best thing for the team,” he said. “We make every decision based on that.

Weber played two minutes Saturday, scoring four points on 2-of-3 shooting. He logged a total of 46 minutes spread over seven games.

“He’s a good kid, did everything we asked of him,” Myers said. “But sometimes you’ve got to make tough decisions. Sometimes you’re not even right, but you make the best decision you can at the time.

“But he’s got a future in the NBA. He’ll have options. That’s the best thing about his situation. He’ll be able to choose what’s best for him.”

Sharks Jones, Tierney find more success in Vancouver in 4-1 win

Sharks Jones, Tierney find more success in Vancouver in 4-1 win

VANCOUVER – One of the more appealing NHL road cities, Vancouver dazzles with its beautiful mountain scenery and walkable downtown avenues.

The Sharks undoubtedly relish those aspects of their trips to British Columbia, but more importantly they’ve enjoyed them on a professional basis, too. San Jose won its 10th straight game at Rogers Arena on Saturday, 4-1, kicking off the final push to the playoffs with a victory coming out of the bye week.

“I think we definitely got better as the game went on, and that’s what you’re looking for,” said Mikkel Boedker, who was one of four Sharks’ goal scorers. “We came out with the win.”

Two Sharks in particular have enjoyed their recent excursions into Vancouver. 

Martin Jones was the best player on the ice, making 35 saves in his hometown. He was relied upon early as the Sharks predictably struggled to get their legs underneath them in what was their first game since last Sunday.

Jones made an impressive stop on Loui Eriksson in the first period, and in the second he stopped Jannik Hansen from point blank range with the Sharks holding a 1-0 lead. Later in the second, it was saves on Alex Edler and Hansen again that preserved San Jose’s 2-1 lead at the intermission. Vancouver was outshooting the Sharks 30-16 after 40 minutes, but trailed.

The Sharks rewarded their goalie with scores by Boedker and Logan Couture on the power play to make the final few minutes of the third period relatively easy.

“When [Jones] plays like that it gives us confidence, and we’ve just got to stick with it and keep creating chances, and we did that tonight,” said Boedker, who snapped a 19-game goal drought.

“[Jones] was our best player tonight,” coach Pete DeBoer said.

Jones improved to a perfect 4-0 in Vancouver, all in a San Jose sweater, with a 1.25 goals-against average and .959 save percentage. He spent the bye week in the area, and had several supporters in the stands.

“It’s always fun playing in front of friends and family,” Jones said. “Happy to get the win here.”

Chris Tierney is another player who seems to thrive in Vancouver. He notched a pair of assists and centered the team's most effective line, after getting his first career two-goal game here earlier this month.

His new line, featuring wingers Tomas Hertl and Joel Ward, opened the scoring in the second period, with Hertl finishing off a pass from Tierney after Ward’s breakaway attempt crept just wide of the net. Later, Tierney got a secondary assist on Patrick Marleau’s second period goal, restoring the Sharks' lead at 2-1.

“They did a good job. I thought some of those guys had our better legs early,” DeBoer said of his third line. “It took some of our veteran guys a little longer to get into it.”

Tierney, who was scoreless in eight straight games since his last time at Rogers Arena on Feb. 2, said: “I thought we generated some good chances. I think we can get better, too. We kind of talked on the bench throughout the game of what we can kind of do to improve and where each other is going to be on the ice, but it felt good playing with those guys. It’s easy to create offense with them.”

In seven career games in Vancouver, Tierney has four goals and three assists for seven points.

“Something about the Vancouver air, or Canadian air,” he said. “I always feel good when I play here.”

After dropping a 2-1 overtime decision to Boston in their final game before the break, the Sharks had a five-point lead over the rest of the division headed into a week off. Saturday’s win pushes the lead back up to five points again on Anaheim and Edmonton, and they now have games in hand on both of those teams, too.

It all adds up to a good start in what is the final stretch before the postseason, and a quest for a division title. Overall, the Sharks are 3-0-3 in their last six games, and have just one regulation loss in their last 11 (5-1-5).

“It’s huge, that’s what you play the regular season for,” said Boedker, when asked about the Sharks padding their lead. “You keep trying to gain as many points as you can, and lately we’ve had some overtime losses, but we keep gaining points.”