Lincecum looks to continue success vs. Cards

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Lincecum looks to continue success vs. Cards

June 1, 2011

GIANTS (29-25) vs.
ST. LOUIS (33-23)

Coverage begins at 5:00 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- The St. Louis Cardinals have alternated wins and losses in their last seven games, but they're hoping the beginning of a new month brings more consistency.

What they'll definitely be getting to open June is a major challenge at the plate.

Tim Lincecum gave up six earned runs in five starts last month and has won five of his six career starts against St. Louis, patterns of success the Giants ace looks to continue Wednesday night at Busch Stadium.

The Cardinals (33-23) won eight of nine from May 16-24 to go from 1 12 games out of first place in the NL Central to 3 12 games in front.

Three losses in five games nearly became four in six Tuesday against San Francisco (29-25), but St. Louis didn't let a late 3-1 deficit get in its way. Doubles from Jon Jay, Albert Pujols and Allen Craig tied the score at 3, then Skip Schumaker's infield single plated Craig and lifted the Cardinals to a 4-3 win.

REWIND: Giants bullpen blows late lead, Cards win

"It's a good win, a comeback win against a very good bullpen," said Schumaker, who had been 2 for 19 since returning from the disabled list before his big hit. "It's very meaningful."

Piecing together consecutive victories won't be easy against Lincecum (5-4, 2.22 ERA), particularly if Matt Holliday is again not in the starting lineup. Holliday returned to the lineup Monday after not starting since May 22 because of a strained left quadriceps, but he was limited to pinch-hitting duties Tuesday.

Lincecum, meanwhile, went 3-1 with a 1.47 ERA in May, capping it with a pair of victories. He pitched a three-hitter in a 3-0 win over Oakland on May 21, then gave up three runs over seven innings Friday in Milwaukee, going from a likely loss to a 5-4 win thanks to rookie Brandon Crawford's seventh-inning grand slam.

Despite completing a strong month, Lincecum's velocity was down against the Brewers. The staff ace, though, says he's fine physically.

"Nothing's hurt or anything," Lincecum told the Giants' official website. "I felt like I was laboring through most of the game, for the most part. Sliders were flat. Fastball was down (in velocity). Changeup was not really diving or anything."

The two-time Cy Young Award winner was 5-0 with a 1.54 ERA against the Cardinals before giving up four runs over 5 1-3 innings in a 5-1 loss Aug. 21 at Busch.

Pujols, who made his second start of the season at third base Tuesday, is 5 for 14 lifetime versus Lincecum.

Jake Westbrook (5-3, 5.19) gets the ball for St. Louis seeking his fourth consecutive victory. After giving up one run over 15 innings in wins over Philadelphia and Kansas City, the right-hander wasn't nearly as sharp Friday in Colorado, but allowing three runs over five innings proved to be good enough in a 10-3 victory.

Westbrook is 2-0 with a 1.86 ERA in his last three home starts after opening 0-2 with an 18.41 ERA.

He wasn't sharp at all in the Cardinals' 5-4, 12-inning loss at San Francisco on April 8. But despite giving up eight hits - including homers to Pat Burrell and Miguel Tejada - and walking four over 5 2-3 innings, he only surrendered three runs.

Giants rookie Brandon Belt will likely miss a few days after being hit in the wrist with a pitch in the seventh inning Tuesday. That could put the struggling Aubrey Huff back at first base Wednesday, but manager Bruce Bochy said he may give him a second straight day off.

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.