Happy birthday Willie -- Giants walk off on Rox

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Happy birthday Willie -- Giants walk off on Rox

May 6, 2011BOX SCORE GIANTS POSTGAME VIDEOMLB PAGE MLB SCOREBOARD
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) A birthday tribute and a little icing on the cake, too.The Say Hey Kid couldn't have had a better night at the ballpark.
URBAN: Mays' sixth tool was joy
Freddy Sanchez singled home the winning run off Felipe Paulino in the ninth inning, giving the Giants a 4-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies on a Friday night when San Francisco celebrated Willie Mays' 80th birthday.Sanchez's line drive up the middle against Paulino (0-2) scored Cody Ross from second and sent the Giants pouring out of the dugout, delighting a roaring crowd that came to toast Mays on a chilly, breezy night along San Francisco Bay."Happy birthday, Willie!" Ross said. "This is your birthday present."Nate Schierholtz tied it with a two-run double in the eighth in a gritty at-bat against Rafael Betancourt, setting the stage for some of that postseason magic from a year ago that's been missing this young season for the World Series champions.Brian Wilson (1-1) pitched the ninth before Ross led off the bottom of the inning with a double down the right-field line. Paulino struck out Aaron Rowand before Sanchez capped San Francisco's comeback from a 3-0 deficit with another strong at-bat on a night full of them."It was a great win for us. A lot of guys came through in some big situations," Sanchez said.The Giants put the exclamation point on a night dedicated to the franchise's most famous star.They honored Mays before the game with a video tribute that included everyone from Hank Aaron to former President Bill Clinton and singer Tony Bennett. A congratulatory letter from President Barack Obama also was read and several of the Hall of Famer's former teammates were alongside him in the infield for the celebration.Colorado nearly crashed the party.Troy Tulowitzki started things off for the Rockies with his 100th career home run in the second inning, a solo shot off Matt Cain. Jonathan Herrera had an RBI single and Carlos Gonzalez added a sacrifice fly in the third to give Colorado a 3-0 lead."We didn't do anything to lose the game. They just came back and won it," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "They had some good luck in my opinion with some well-placed hits."The early lead appeared to be enough, with starter Ubaldo Jimenez back to throwing a wicked breaking ball that was at times dominant. Yet he was still puzzling other times, walking five, and departed after throwing 118 pitches in six innings.Jimenez, whose only run allowed came on a RBI groundout by Buster Posey in the sixth, has been searching for his command after spending time on the disabled list with a cracked cuticle on his pitching thumb. And while his performance offered a glimmer of hope for the Rockies ace, the inconsistency was a reminder he still isn't back to his form from a year ago - when he was 15-1 by the time he took the mound as the National League starter for the All-Star game."I was more confident and felt more comfortable," said Jimenez, who's still searching for his first win this season. "I felt like I was more consistent with my delivery."His bullpen just couldn't hold it.Posey singled and Pat Burrell later doubled with two outs off Betancourt in the eighth. Schierholtz knocked a double down the line past diving third baseman Ian Stewart that tied it 3-all, giving the Giants a chance to deliver a win on a night that was special for so many other reasons."It was nice to see Willie out there with his friends," manager Bruce Bochy said. "And it's nice to hand him a birthday present."NOTES: The Rockies are planning to start RHP Clayton Mortensen on Saturday in place of Esmil Rogers, Tracy said. Rogers is dealing with lateral discomfort and could miss more than one start. The team will announce a move before Saturday's game to clear space for Mortensen. ... Giants LHP Barry Zito (sprained right foot) threw on flat ground from about 60 feet. He will be evaluated by a doctor Saturday. ... Giants CF Andres Torres (strained left Achilles' tendon) will remain on a rehab assignment at Triple-A Fresno through Sunday. ... Giants reliever Santiago Casilla threw a bullpen session and will likely face hitters in a simulated game Sunday. ... Giants 3B Pablo Sandoval (broken bone in right wrist) said he will have his hard cast removed next week and replaced with a removable cast. He is optimistic he will be back in the lineup on schedule within six weeks.

A's spring training Day 41: Maxwell's two-HR day can't stave off bad news

A's spring training Day 41: Maxwell's two-HR day can't stave off bad news

PHOENIX — Bruce Maxwell homered twice against the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday, and his reward was a demotion to the minors.

Awkward timing, for sure. But the news itself wasn’t much of a shock to the A’s catcher, who knew he was the odd man out in a three-man roster battle. The A’s like the left-right platoon behind the plate. Stephen Vogt, who like Maxwell hits left-handed, wasn’t going anywhere. Josh Phegley is back healthy after knee surgery and has the advantage of being a right-handed hitter.

“I mean, I could have come out here and hit 1.000 and I probably still would have been in the same situation,” Maxwell said. “I can’t really do much about it. I try not to worry about it. At the end of the day everybody wants to play in the big leagues, but if the opportunity is not there you can’t stress about it.”

Manager Bob Melvin gave Maxwell the news in the dugout after he exited Oakland’s 11-1 victory, and Melvin certainly couldn’t give Maxwell a justifiable reason for the demotion except that the roster math doesn’t add up.

“Great day to have to do that,” Melvin said sarcastically. “But, he’ll be here at some point. We saw his progression last year, he did a great job for us. There’s nothing he did to suggest he needed to be sent down. It’s just a numbers game for him right now.”

The A’s batted around in a five-run third, knocking Brewers starter Matt Garza from the game after he recorded just seven outs. They tacked on four more in the fourth, with Maxwell going deep to left-center for a two-run homer off Jhan Marinez. In the sixth, he hit a solo shot off Corey Knebel to right-center and also added a run-scoring single to complete his four-RBI day.

Melvin has spoken often of the improving power shown by the 26-year-old Maxwell, who hit .283 with a homer and 14 RBI in 33 games with Oakland last season in his first major league call-up.

“If you look at the power numbers over the years, he’s getting better and better,” Melvin said. “He’s got the chance to be a 20-home run guy in the big leagues.”

NOTEWORTHY: Jharel Cotton held Milwaukee to just a run on four hits over 5 2/3 innings. He bounced back from a wobbly start against Seattle in which he walked five. On Sunday, his toughest challenge was staying loose as the A’s offense put up two time-consuming rallies. Twice, Cotton had to play catch while his teammates paraded around the bases.

But it sure didn’t affect him, as he struck out seven and walked one in his second-to-last spring training start.

“This one, I was more on the attack, using my fastball more so I can set up my changeup and off-speed pitches,” Cotton said. “I know everybody raves about the changeup, but I need my fastball to be there so I can throw that pitch off the fastball.”

He had an entertaining ongoing battle with six-time All-Star Ryan Braun. He struck out Braun on a cutter in the first, gave up a homer to left in the fourth, then battled back from a 3-0 count to get Braun swinging through a fastball in the sixth.

“I got him twice, he got me once,” Cotton said. “I think I won that battle today.”

HEALTH UPDATE: Daniel Mengden, who has missed all of spring with a broken right foot, is scheduled to get his walking boot removed Monday. Mengden said he’ll stay in Arizona for anywhere from two to four weeks, taking part in extended spring training. The good news for the right-hander: He’s been able to play catch while wearing the boot, so that’s a bit of a head-start for him once he gets full mobility with his foot. There’s no timetable yet for his return.

ODDS AND ENDS: The A’s knocked out 16 hits and recorded double-digit runs for the fifth time this spring. They improved to 16-12. … Alejandro De Aza, fighting for an outfield roster spot, went 2-for-3 with an RBI to raise his average to .300. … With few regulars making the trip to Maryvale Baseball Park, second baseman Max Schrock came over from minor league camp and once again made an impact, going 3-for-5 with two doubles and two RBI. … John Axford threw a scoreless inning of relief. Frankie Montas handled the final two innings, allowing one hit with two strikeouts and a walk. The hard-throwing prospect is a candidate for the bullpen as a multi-inning guy.

Couture's father: Sharks center dealing with 'ugly injury' after puck to mouth

Couture's father: Sharks center dealing with 'ugly injury' after puck to mouth

The Sharks dropped their sixth straight game Saturday in Nashville against the Predators. To make matters worse, center Logan Couture left the ice to an ugly scene after taking a puck straight to the mouth. 

Directly after the game, Couture was taken to a local Nashville hospital. On Sunday, his father Chet could not provide specific details but called what his son is going through "an ugly injury sadly." 

Couture was set up just outside the crease when a Brent Burns point shot late in the second period hit a stick before squarely smacking into the 27-year-old’s mouth. Replays showed Couture appeared to lose at least one tooth, and he quickly skated to the dressing room under his own power with just 14 seconds before the intermission.

"You can't replace him, so it would be really tough,” Patrick Marleau said after Saturday's loss. “But if that is the case, then guys are going to have to pull up the slack. Definitely we hope he's back sooner.”

Couture flew back with the team Sunday morning, but Insider Kevin Kurz is hearing the injury is certainly a bad one.