Padres get to Lincecum early; Giants lose 5-3

495352.jpg

Padres get to Lincecum early; Giants lose 5-3

July 4, 2011BOXSCORE GIANTSVIDEOMLBPAGE MLBSCOREBOARD
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) The San Diego Padres returned to the place where last season's collapse was completed. This time, they found a way to avoid another meltdown.Will Venable hit his second home run of the season and the Padres pounced on Tim Lincecum in a 5-3 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Monday, getting a small dose of satisfaction against the defending World Series champions.The Giants eliminated the Padres from playoff contention on the final day of the 2010 season at AT&T Park. It was the culmination of a horrible finish that included a 10-game losing streak stretching into September.
RELATED: MLB standings
"It had that same feel, tight game where they're never out of it," Venable said. "As good and consistent as our bullpen is, they always get it done against them. It always seems like they get a couple guys on base and make it interesting."San Diego built enough of a cushion to withstand the late push.Chase Headley, Orlando Hudson and Ryan Ludwick each had an RBI off Lincecum (6-7) to chase the Giants' ace after five innings. Nick Hundley added an RBI single in the eighth and Venable's solo shot came in the ninth.Clayton Richard (5-9) struck out two and gave up two hits and three walks in five innings. After two separate four-game losing streaks this season, the lefty has won three straight.Heath Bell allowed a run in the ninth and put the potential tying runs in scoring position with one out. Then he got Andres Torres to fly out and Aaron Rowand to ground out for his 25th save."It just seems like we play these heart-stoppers all the time," Padres manager Bud Black said.The rally came too late for the Giants.About the lone bright spot before the ninth was Pablo Sandoval, who hit a two-run homer into McCovey Cove and finished a triple shy of the cycle. He also extended his career-high hitting streak to 15 games and has an extra-base hit in nine straight.
SANDOVAL: Player profile game logs
The Padres wasted little time against Lincecum on a day he was hardly at his dominating best.They put a runner on base in all five innings against the two-time NL Cy Young Award winner. And the aggressive, free-swinging approach worked from the opening pitch.Venable and Jason Bartlett singled to start the first. Venable scored on Headley's sacrifice fly to center, and Hudson drove in Bartlett with a single later in the inning to give San Diego a 2-0 lead.After Bartlett doubled to open the fifth, Ludwick hit an RBI single to put San Diego ahead 3-0. That was enough to get Giants manager Bruce Bochy to dig into his bullpen early.Lincecum allowed three runs on seven hits and has only one win in his last seven starts. He struck out four and walked two in his shortest outing since going four innings on June 11, and he's never had a losing record this late in the season."I didn't feel like I had a good rhythm or energy," Lincecum said. "But that's the excuse I seem to give every time. I fell behind hitters and every pitch seemed difficult instead of cruising. I didn't have it from the start. You have to grind through it. I didn't grind hard enough. I wasn't hitting my spots."It was a pretty bad outing all the way around."Richard was in complete control against the offensively challenged Giants. He induced double plays in the second and fifth, and the only time San Francisco reached second base against Richard came on Sandoval's two-out double in the first.Richard left after throwing just 76 pitches through five innings because of shoulder stiffness, which isn't expected to affect his next start. He struck out two and gave up two hits and three walks, and perhaps the Padres should've stuck with him longer.Sandoval smacked a 2-1 pitch from Ernesto Frieri over the right-field wall for the first splash shot of the season, trimming San Diego's lead to 3-2 and sending kayakers scurrying into the chilly waters for the ball. The home run was the 56th by a Giants player into McCovey Cove, with 35 belonging to home run king Barry Bonds.NOTES: Headley was ejected in the ninth after he struck out swinging, leaving his bat at home plate and muttering a few words to umpire Tim Timmons. ... Giants OF Cody Ross was replaced by a pinch-runner in the sixth inning because of a mild left hamstring strain. He is day to day. ... Padres reliever Joe Thatcher threw about 25 pitches off the mound for the first time since left shoulder surgery two months ago. ... Padres RHP Aaron Harang (bruised right foot) was scheduled to begin his rehab stint Monday night at Class-A Lake Elsinore.

Del Rio: Raiders 'have some real diehards,' should keep homefield advantage in Oakland

nfl-generic.jpg

Del Rio: Raiders 'have some real diehards,' should keep homefield advantage in Oakland

PHOENIX – Jack Del Rio is an East Bay guy. The Castro Valley native and Hayward High product went to Raiders games as a child, and knows too well how loud Oakland Coliseum crowds can be. He helped create that home-field advantage decades ago, and appreciates it now as Raiders head coach.

The Black Hole and surrounding supporters were felt in losing seasons but last year especially, when the Raiders went 12-4 and won several games in dramatic fashion.

While the Raiders are currently sold out of season tickets for 2017, there’s some question about how the fans will react after owners approved relocation to Las Vegas on Monday morning. The Raiders plan to play in Oakland the next two seasons – they have team options on the Oakland Coliseum for 2017 and 2018 -- and would like to play there again in 2019 until a Vegas stadium is completed in 2020.

Will there be a bunch of empty seats? Will there be protests outside the stadium? Or will the opportunity to see a team with championship aspirations keep fans coming?

That remains uncertain, though Del Rio believes Raiders fans will continue supporting their club.

“I can’t answer that definitively, but I would say I doubt it,” Del Rio said Tuesday at the NFL owners meetings. “I think we have to play well and earn it. That’s where it starts. I’m banking on us doing well. If we do well enough, people will be excited to watch us."

Raiders owner Mark Davis has offered refunds to fans jilted by the move out of town, though those requests weren’t immediately high. There’s also a waiting list to buy season tickets if they become available.

There will be fans turned off after all this, and Raiders brass don’t fault them for it.

“There is that element where a certain number where they’re disappointed to the point they won’t support us anymore. That’s understandable,” Del Rio said. “We’ll have to see what that number is. If it’s a lot, we’ll adjust that line of thinking. But I would be surprised if that’s the case.”

Raiders fans are unique, and have shown a willingness to travel for games regardless of record.

“We have some real diehards,” Del Rio said. “We draw globally. I’m sure there will be some who are angry and can’t get over it; that’s understandable. I think there will be a large contingent who are true Raiders fans, and it really doesn’t matter where they’re playing. They’re there and they’re fired up.”

Del Rio: No handbook for transition to Vegas, 'focus on the here and now'

Del Rio: No handbook for transition to Vegas, 'focus on the here and now'

PHOENIX -- Jack Del Rio’s sat down for his annual media breakfast Tuesday morning surrounded by cameras. The Raiders head coach was the main attraction at this AFC function at the NFL owners meetings, and it wasn’t because his team finished 12-4 last year.

Most of this media throng wasn’t there to ask about Derek Carr’s rehab from fibula surgery or position battles waged during the offseason program.

They wanted to know about Vegas, baby, Vegas.

The Raiders were approved to relocate there Monday and he was asked about how he’ll deal with relocation issues despite the fact Del Rio will coach the Oakland Raiders for as many as three seasons.

That limbo length is unprecedented, leaving Del Rio without a road map for how to ease concerns about the future.

“It’s a little unique,” Del Rio said. “There isn’t a handbook out there. If there is, send it to me. There isn’t one out there. We’ll draw on the experiences we have in the group, and do the best we can to put a plan together and execute it.”

Del Rio said he’ll address relocation with his players once they convene for the offseason program, and try to keep them focused on the present. He recommends discussion with anxious family members as well, and to reiterate that there’s an extended stretch where relocation is only a concept.

“If you go back to this basic principle: It’s a year-to-year league,” Del Rio said. “Heck, it’s a week-to-week league. Don’t get too far ahead of yourselves. There is a story that’s going to be written that’s going to take off.

“We have to focus on the here and now. So much of the team turns over anyway, from the coaching staffs to the roster. Let’s just focus on taking care of business.”

Del Rio brought up a good point, that NFL rosters turnover at roughly 30 percent each year and coaching staffs fluctuate, so it’s possible many may never be a Raider playing in Vegas.

Del Rio anticipates being involved in the construction and amenities of a practice facility in the Las Vegas area at some point, though a location hasn’t been chosen yet. He said the Raiders have had discussions on how to help players and staff with the eventual transition and with player outreach to mitigate issues regarding readily available vices in Sin City.

Del Rio said he would ask Raiders alumni about the move to Los Angeles in the 1980s, and use their experience to help in this upcoming move.

He answered every question on this topic Tuesday morning, but hopes to move on from it when the offseason program begins next month.

“For us, it’s really about getting back to the task of the upcoming season,” Del Rio said. “We know we’re going to have nine games not on our home turf. We have a demanding schedule, and it’s going to be imperative that, as a football team, we focus on the here and now. … We had a good, strong year last year and we’re looking forward to building on that.”

Las Vegas will remain a topic moving forward, and Del Rio will be prepared to deal with the unexpected as he sails uncharted waters.

“(After this), maybe I can write a handbook I can pass out to the next team in this spot,” Del Rio said. “For me, it’s something you have to navigate. You have to appreciate some of the things that are coming, know what they are and address them.”