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.

Fultz a perfect fit, but do Kings have assets required to trade up?

Fultz a perfect fit, but do Kings have assets required to trade up?

It’s lonely at the top, which is where Markelle Fultz sits on almost every 2017 NBA Draft board. The Brooklyn Nets should be set for the next decade with a big time scoring point guard. Instead, it’s the Boston Celtics who have no choice but to take Fultz with the No. 1 overall selection after a savvy trade that sent veterans Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry to the Nets for a stack of picks and players back in 2013.

Fultz can do it all. He’s deadly from the outside, he can take you off the bounce and he has elite passing skills to boot. In a draft packed with star potential, specifically at the point guard position, the freshman from Washington stands out well above the rest.  

It would take a major shake up at the top for Fultz not to have his name called first on draft night, but there are plenty of very talented players sitting on the board behind him. Here is a deeper look at the potential top overall selection.

The Positives:
Fultz has tremendous size, length and athleticism for an NBA point guard. He measured in at 6-foot-5, 195-pounds with a 6-foot-10 wingspan and has a frame built to take on muscle. At just 19-years-old, he is already well defined physically and has plenty of room to grow and get stronger.

A crafty, high-end scorer, Fultz changes speed and direction well and has an advanced Euro-step for a young player. He averaged 23.2 points in 35.7 minutes a night for the Huskies while shooting 47.6 percent from the field and 41.3 percent from three. He can score from all three levels, finish well above the rim and play through contact.

In his lone season in college, Fultz showed that he is not only a legitimate scoring threat, but he is a willing passer and an unselfish teammate. While Lonzo Ball is considered the true pass first point guard of the draft, Fultz had a higher assist rate (35.5 to 31.5) and lower turnover rate (13.4 to 18.2) than the star guard from UCLA.

Fultz rebounds well for his position, averaging 5.7 rebounds per game at Washington. He also has potential as a defender, posting 1.6 steals and 1.2 blocks, although he is a work in progress on that end of the floor.

Known as a high-character kid and tireless worker off the court, Fultz has the entire package. He can also play the lead or shooting guard spot, which will come in handy if the Celtics decide to pair him with All-Star Isaiah Thomas in the backcourt.

The Negatives:
9-16 is a concern. Great college players should be able to will their team to victory, even if the talent around them is suspect. Washington was certainly worse off without Fultz down the stretch, losing their last six while he sat with a knee injury.

Shot selection and sloppy ball handling was also an issue this season. In Fultz’ defense, he played with a group that lacked overall talent and those issues might eventually disappear when he’s added to a roster that made it to the Eastern Conference Finals.  

Fultz is a quality chase down defender, but he fell asleep on plenty of plays or didn’t show a consistent fight on the defensive end. Lack of focus allowed for plenty of back cuts. He also showed an inconsistent effort fighting through screens.

He’s a work in progress on the defensive end, like most young players coming into the league. Most of these issues can easily be coached out of him at the next level.

Projection:
Fultz has an advanced feel and tons of room to expand his game. On the court, he resembles another former Husky in Brandon Roy. Fultz is much further along than Roy was at the same age, but possesses both the ability to score from anywhere on the court, as well as rebound and set up his teammates.  

It’s hard to imagine the Celtics passing on Fultz with the top overall selection, but if they do, teams will scramble trying to move up to select him. He would fit perfectly in the Kings starting backcourt alongside sophomore Buddy Hield, but Sacramento lacks the assets to move from five to one, Fultz’ likely landing spot.

 

Early offense, six strong from Cueto lift Giants past Braves in finale

Early offense, six strong from Cueto lift Giants past Braves in finale

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO -- The blisters on Johnny Cueto's middle and index fingers that limited his effectiveness in his last few starts haven't yet completely healed.

But the two-time All-Star is learning to pitch with them.

Cueto threw six strong innings and Brandon Crawford drove in three runs as the San Francisco Giants defeated the Atlanta Braves 7-1 on Sunday.

Cueto (5-4) bounced back from his roughest stretch as a Giant. He was 0-3 with a 4.33 ERA in his previous four starts.

"They're not bothering me like they were before," Cueto said through a translator. "I'm just getting used to it but I have to continue pitching until they get better."

The Giants won their third straight home series and posted their 11th victory in 18 games overall.

Crawford's two-run single highlighted a four-run second against R.A. Dickey (3-4) that made it 6-0.

Matt Kemp had three hits for Atlanta. But the Braves couldn't get much going against Cueto, who allowed one run on six hits and a walk. Cueto struck out eight, including five in a row at one point.

"He did what he needed to do to get us out," Kemp said. "We had chances to score runs and we didn't. I think in this series we really didn't do a good score of scoring runs."

Dickey allowed a season-high seven runs (six earned) on six hits and five walks in six innings.

"This can be a challenging place to throw because of the wind because it swirls so much," Dickey said.

Eduardo Nunez and Gorkys Hernandez each had two hits for the Giants. Joe Panik tripled to start the second-inning burst.

Cueto had two productive at-bats, bunting a runner to second in the second inning and driving in a run with a sacrifice fly in the third.

"It's always nice to have a lead and I thought Johnny was the sharpest he'd been this year," Giants catcher Buster Posey said. "Hopefully it's something he can build on. The changeup was working really well and his command of the fastball was really good."

Posey was 0 for 2 with two walks. He hasn't struck out in 55 consecutive plate appearances.

FUN FACTOR:
The Giants scored the game's first run when Nunez came around from third when a knuckleball glanced off catcher Kurt Suzuki glove in the bottom of the first. The play was ruled a passed ball. Asked if he had any empathy for the plight of his counterpart, Posey said "Yes, no question. It's not fun to hit, it doesn't look fun to catch, either."

FANCY FIELDING:
Hernandez made a diving catch in the gap in left-center robbing Emilio Bonifacio of an extra-base hit with one out in the seventh inning.

TRAINER'S ROOM:
Braves: 2B Brandon Phillips left in the fifth for pinch-hitter Jace Peterson. Phillips fouled a ball off his foot in his last at-bat in the third.

Giants: LHP Madison Bumgarner will start his throwing program on Friday, manager Bruce Bochy said. Bumgarner will start out playing catch and make five rehab starts. The 2014 World Series MVP suffered a separated left shoulder in a dirt biking accident. "The progress is happening," Bochy said. "I think he sees light at the end of the tunnel." ... Slumping rookie INF Christian Arroyo was out of the lineup on Sunday and his playing status appears uncertain. Arroyo, who turns 22 on Tuesday, is 0 for 19 in his last five games. "I'll talk to him, about what his situation is," Bochy said. "I'm definitely planning on giving him a couple of days" off.

UP NEXT:
Braves: RHP Julio Teheran will make his first career start against the Angels in Anaheim on Monday. He is 3-9 with a 5.63 ERA in 15 career interleague starts.

Giants: LHP Matt Moore will face the Nationals for the second time in his career. He was with Tampa Bay when he gave up two runs in five innings against Washington in 2012.