Monta leads W's into another date with Dallas

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Monta leads W's into another date with Dallas

March 20, 2011
WARRIORS (30-39) vs.DALLAS (48-21)
Coverage starts at 4 p.m. on CSN Bay Area

(AP) -- With less than a month until the playoffs, the Dallas Mavericks are admittedly out of sync, a feeling that could worsen depending on the health of Shawn Marion.Coming off a tough loss that left Marion with an injured wrist, the Mavericks will try to regain some momentum when they host the Golden State Warriors on Sunday with a chance to clinch a postseason berth.Dallas (48-21) has lost five of eight following an 18-1 stretch but is still third in the Western Conference. With a win Sunday and a loss by Phoenix, the Mavericks would wrap up a playoff spot for the 11th straight season.However, their fans might be getting concerned that another early postseason exit lies ahead for a team that hasn't made it out of the second round since losing to Miami in the 2006 NBA finals. Dallas' last five losses have all come against playoff contenders, including 97-91 to San Antonio on Friday."The rhythm obviously isn't there right now," said guard Jason Terry, who scored 19 points after missing his first six shots.The Mavericks came back from a 40-22 deficit but faded in the final minutes. The departure of Marion, who scored 13 points in 14 first-half minutes before getting hurt, was felt late when Dallas was unable to slow the Spurs.Marion, who had averaged 19.8 points in the previous four games, is questionable for Sunday after X-rays showed nothing broken. He's third on the team in scoring and rebounding with 12.1 points and 6.8 boards per game.The injury could be a big concern for the Mavericks, who have lacked a consistent third scorer along with Nowitzki and Terry since losing Caron Butler (knee) for the season.Jason Kidd has averaged 4.3 points on 25.8 percent shooting in the last six games. Tyson Chandler, averaging 10.3 points and 9.2 rebounds, hasn't scored in double figures in three of the last five games and had less than 10 boards in all of them.The next two games present Dallas with a good opportunity to get back on track. After facing Golden State (30-39), the Mavericks will host lowly Minnesota on Thursday before beginning a six-game road trip.Dallas has won five straight over the Warriors, including both meetings this season. Dirk Nowitzki averaged 29.5 points in the two games, including 34 in Wednesday's 112-106 win as the Mavericks rallied from 18 down.The Warriors come to Dallas having lost three straight and 10 of 15. After their loss to the Mavs, they fell 108-97 to Phoenix on Friday.Monta Ellis was held to eight points after scoring 26 versus Dallas.Dorell Wright scored all 30 of his points in the second half Friday, tying the second-highest total in a half by a player this season. He has gone 20 of 40 from beyond the arc over the last five games."Guys were just finding me, it wasn't nothing really to it," said Wright, who has averaged 22.0 points the last five games. "Same thing I've been doing all year, I just caught a little fire."Golden State has lost its last two visits to Dallas.

With Bumgarner sidelined, Blach 'taking full advantage' of opportunity

With Bumgarner sidelined, Blach 'taking full advantage' of opportunity

SAN FRANCISCO -- At some point over the next four days, Madison Bumgarner will pick up a baseball, stand a few feet across from a member of the training staff, and simply play catch. It'll be a huge step in Bumgarner's rehab, and should it go well, a boost to the psyche of a struggling team.

In the meantime, another lefty is making sure the Giants don't suffer too much without their ace, as improbable as that first seemed.

Ty Blach took a shutout into the eighth Saturday night and in true Bumgarner fashion, he added a pair of hits and an RBI. The Giants beat the Braves 6-3. They've won Blach's past three starts, and even with a 10-run outing in Cincinnati mixed in, he has a 3.71 ERA since taking the spot left open by a dirt bike accident.

"Because of what happened he's in the rotation," manager Bruce Bochy said, "And he's taking full advantage."

Blach has shown that long term, he might be a big part of this rotation. It's been years since the Giants locked a young, cost-controlled starter in, and Blach has backed up his big cameo last year. It's possible -- likely even -- that at some point the Giants will need to trade a veteran, perhaps Johnny Cueto, for young bats. Blach provides needed insurance. 

Short term, he's providing a huge boost to a team that doesn't have much going right. Blach has thrown at least seven innings in his past four starts. He has allowed just eight earned runs in four starts since the one in Cincinnati, throwing 28 2/3 innings. 

"I feel good," Blach said. "I've always been a starter, so it's been a pretty easy transition to make. I feel comfortable."

The Giants are comfortable behind him, as evidenced by a half-dozen strong defensive plays Saturday. 

"He's been consistent and he works quickly," first baseman Brandon Belt said. "He's just a great guy to play behind."

Blach even joined in at the plate. He had an RBI single in his first at-bat -- his first big league hit off Not Clayton Kershaw -- and later roped another single. Blach even showed off his wheels, busting it from first to third on Denard Span's ball to the corner before Phil Nevin held him up. 

"I worked into some good counts and I was able to get fastballs," Blach said of his night at the plate. "It's definitely a big confidence booster when your spot comes up and you're able to drive in runs."

The night was straight out of Bumgarner's playbook, and it was needed. The Giants had dropped five of six, but Blach was backed by homers from Nick Hundley and Brandon Belt. It got a little hairy late, but the bullpen held on, clinching Blach's third win of the season. He looks poised for many more, and Bochy is happy to keep running him out there.

"I'm not surprised by what he's doing," the manager said.

 

Instant Analysis: Blach does it all vs Braves, Giants snap skid

Instant Analysis: Blach does it all vs Braves, Giants snap skid

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — This spot in the rotation is the one reserved for the stopper, the pitcher who takes a game by the throat when his team really needs it. 

Ty Blach took the mound Saturday for a team that had lost five of six, and just as Madison Bumgarner often has, Blach ended the skid. The young lefty was dominant into the eighth and the bats finally provided enough support. The Giants won 6-3, tying this weekend series with the Braves.

Here are five things to know from a night we were reminded that Emilio Bonifacio is in the big leagues … 

--- Blach pitched 7 2/3 innings. He has thrown at least seven innings in his last four starts, and five of seven starts overall. Jeff Samardzija (6) is the only Giants starter who has gone that deep more often. Blach is tied with Johnny Cueto for second-most seven-inning starts on staff, and Cueto has made three additional starts. 

--- Blach’s RBI single in the fourth was -- at the time -- the fourth hit of his career, and the first against a pitcher not named Clayton Kershaw. The ball had an exit velocity of 101 mph. Blach tried to score from first on Denard Span’s double, but Phil Nevin held him. Still, the way he was moving, it makes you wonder if Samardzija really is Bruce Bochy’s best pitcher-pinch-running option. In the seventh, Blach picked up a second single. 

--- Blach’s only bad start has been the one he made in Cincinnati, where the Giants played like a Double-A team. If you take that one out, Blach has a 2.21 ERA since taking over Bumgarner’s rotation spot. 

--- Even though he gave up just two earned in 7 2/3, Blach’s home ERA actually went up. It’s 1.75, which ranks seventh in the National League. The sellout crowd gave Blach a standing ovation when he was pulled in the eighth. 

--- Blach had a season-high five strikeouts. When he got Nick Markakis to end the first, Blach ended a streak of 37 left-handers faced without a strikeout. He later struck out another lefty, Matt Adams. The new Braves first baseman came up as the tying run in the eighth but Derek Law got him to ground out to first. 

--- Bonus sixth “thing to know” ... on Blach of course: His first name is Tyson, not Tyler. It’s Tyson Michael Blach.