Monta, Warriors seek a way through Phoenix

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Monta, Warriors seek a way through Phoenix

March 18, 2011WARRIORS (30-38) vs.
PHOENIX (33-33)
Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area(AP) -- After an impressive stretch brought them back into the playoff picture, the Phoenix Suns suddenly find themselves on the verge of their longest losing streak of the season.A matchup against the Golden State Warriors could help them regroup.Hoping to avoid a fifth consecutive loss, the Suns will try for a 12th straight home win over the Warriors, who begin a four-game trip Friday night.Phoenix (33-33), which lost 21 of its first 36 games and sat in 11th place in the Western Conference on Jan. 11, had moved up to ninth last week following an 18-8 run.The Suns, though, have since averaged just 93.3 points on 42.2 percent shooting en route to a season-worst-tying four consecutive defeats.
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"He tried, but he's not the same guy," coach Alvin Gentry said. "I didn't expect him to be. Just to have him out there was good for us. He's not going to be at 100 percent, and with him that's important that he has the zip."The loss dropped Phoenix back into 11th in the conference, and with only 16 games remaining, its playoff hopes seem to be quickly fading."Every loss hurts and definitely every loss is going to make a difference for this run towards the playoffs," said reserve center Marcin Gortat, averaging 14.3 points and 10.0 rebounds in his last 12 games.The Suns and Warriors (30-38) are two of the highest-scoring teams in the league, averaging 104.7 and 103.2 points, respectively.Phoenix, though, has held Golden State to an average of 90.0 points on 41.6 percent shooting in the last two meetings to extend its winning streak in the series to five games.The Warriors last won at Phoenix 110-100 on March 18, 2005, and have since been outscored by an average of 12.6 points over 11 consecutive losses at US Airways Center.Golden State, which sits in 12th place in the West - four games behind Phoenix - fell 112-106 to Dallas on Wednesday night despite leading by as many as 18 in the second quarter.
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"It was tough. We should have had that game," said Monta Ellis, who had 26 points and 11 assists. "I take the blame. I made some mistakes at the end, turned the ball over and didn't hit the shots I needed to. I also waited too long to get everybody involved at the end of the game."Ellis, among the league's top 10 with 24.8 points per game, was held to eight on 4-of-13 shooting in a 112-88 loss at Phoenix on Feb. 10. He is averaging 15.5 points on 34.2 percent shooting in his last two road contests.
REWIND: Flat Warriors buried by Nash, Suns 112-88
Guard Stephen Curry has also struggled against the Suns of late, averaging 12.0 points - 6.6 below his season mark - in three losses in 2010-11.The Warriors, losers of nine of 13 overall and nine of 12 on the road, haven't been swept by Phoenix since 2001-02.The Suns, however, have been outscored by an average of 21.0 points in their last two home games. They haven't lost three straight at home since Jan. 16-31, 2009.

Giants get blanked by Braves, now have lowest-scoring team in majors

Giants get blanked by Braves, now have lowest-scoring team in majors

SAN FRANCISCO — Over in Cleveland earlier Friday, Brandon Moss hit a three-run homer for the visiting team and five other players chipped in a pair of hits. The Royals had six runs, which meant that when Jim Johnson closed the Giants out a few hours later, what has seemed true all season became officially true. The Giants have the lowest-scoring lineup in the majors.

At 3.32 runs per game, they have dipped below the equally-disappointing Royals (3.38). They are capable at the moment of making any pitching staff look dominant. A 2-0 shutout was the first of the year for the Braves, who previously had just two games this season where they allowed fewer than two runs. 

“Six runs in (the last) four games … I thought we would come home and get some rips in tonight, but it didn’t happen,” Bruce Bochy said. 

The manager’s frustration showed late in this one. After the only rally of the game — a two-run single by opposing pitcher Jaime Garcia — Bochy took his cap off and rubbed his forehead. He dipped his head and briefly stood as if he was going to fall asleep on the rail. The bats were equally still. 

The Giants had just four hits, all of them singles against Garcia, who is a nice pitcher but hardly one of the league’s best. One was an infield single by Eduardo Nuñez, another a single through Garcia’s five-hole, and a third a generous ruling by the official scorekeeper. 

“It comes down to, you’ve got to get some hits and create opportunities, and we’re not doing it very often,” Bochy said. “It’s just a matter of guys getting somewhat hot. We did, we had some success, and we won some games. The thing you like to see is some good cuts and I didn’t think we got enough of those tonight.”

That run, which spanned the last homestand and small parts of two road trips, has come to a screeching halt. The Giants have lost five of six. It seems silly to scoreboard-watch in May, especially when a team is playing like this, but it’s worth noting that the teams the Giants eventually need to catch keep winning. They fell 12 games back of the Rockies and 11 back of the streaking Diamondbacks. They are 9 1/2 back of the Dodgers, who might be the best team in the whole league. 

Matt Cain did his part to allow the Giants to keep pace. He got beat just once in seven sharp innings. The Giants intentionally walked Dansby Swanson to get to Garcia, who bounced a single into left. Brandon Belt had a play at the plate, but his throw was short and hit the runner. A second run scored. 

“That’s tough,” Cain said. “(Garcia) was throwing the ball really good and that’s what it comes down to, you’re looking for that one hit and he did it. He’s a good hitter. We’ve seen it in St. Louis. But it definitely is tough when the pitcher does that … it just stinks on my part to give up a hit to the opposing pitcher.”

Lowrie's big hit sparks A's, gets road trip started right

Lowrie's big hit sparks A's, gets road trip started right

NEW YORK — Jed Lowrie is the counterpoint to the A’s home run-crazed offensive attack.

Sure, the A’s switch-hitting second baseman can muscle up and clear the fence. But Lowrie’s approach is more about spraying base hits all around and using the whole field. He was at it again in Friday’s 4-1 A’s victory over the Yankees, going 3-for-4 and delivering an RBI single that snapped a scoreless tie in the eighth.

“I always have to carry his glove out to second for him because he’s always on base,” shortstop Adam Rosales said. “He looks really good at the plate right now, and he’s kind of just putting us on his back. It’s contagious to see a guy like that doing so well.”

Lowrie bumped his average up to .310 with Friday’s game. Until he grounded out in the sixth, he’d notched hits in seven consecutive at-bats dating back to Tuesday night. That streak fell one shy of the A’s record for most consecutive hits. Three players share the record at eight — Josh Reddick (in 2016), Dave Magadan (1997) and Brent Gates (1994).

“It’s all about the work,” said Lowrie, whose 15 doubles are tied for third in the AL. “Everything comes together when you’re seeing it well. I’m seeing it well but the approach hasn’t changed.”

With two runners aboard and two out in the eighth, Lowrie punched an RBI single to right off Tyler Clippard for the game’s first run. It was the breakthrough the A’s needed after they’d struck out 13 times in seven innings against Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka. Khris Davis followed Lowrie’s hit by beating out an infield single to score another run. Then Stephen Vogt added a two-run homer in top of the ninth to make it 4-0, and that provided some cushion as closer Santiago Casilla gave up a run and made things tenser than they should have been in the bottom half.

Davis, the most fearsome hitter in Oakland’s lineup, is thrilled to have a productive Lowrie batting in front of him as the No. 3 man.

“Somebody’s gotta hit .300,” Davis said. “All year he’s been our most consistent hitter and best hitter. I hope he keeps going.”

The A’s have won four in a row at Yankee Stadium dating back to last year. It’s their longest winning streak in the Bronx since a four-gamer at the old stadium in 2006. And it was a good way to begin a seven-game road trip for the A’s, who came in with the league’s worst road record at 6-15.

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Rosales had puffiness under his right eye and said he was anticipating a shiner after his hard head-first dive into third base didn’t go as planned in the eighth. He scraped up his face pretty good after going first to third on an errant pickoff throw and taking a hard dive into third, only to find the dirt wasn’t giving.

After addressing reporters, Rosales said he was on his way to find an ice pack.