Sandoval, Fontenot power Giants to series win


Sandoval, Fontenot power Giants to series win


SAN FRANCISCO -- Mark DeRosa was slated to start at second base because Freddy Sanchez was given his first night of the season off to rest his slightly sore right shoulder.

Mike Fontenot, hitless in 2011, ended up starting at second base because DeRosa's twice-surgically repaired left wrist started barking shortly before game time.

Make that previously hitless.

Fontenot spanked an RBI double early in the game and added a tie-breaking solo homer in the sixth Wednesday, helping the host Giantsreattain a .500 record by beating the Dodgers 4-3 in the rubber match of a three-game series at AT&T Park.

"I just wanted to get Fontenot into the game," DeRosa said with a sly smile. "You know me; always thinking about the team."

Relayed those comments, Fontenot couldn't help but laugh.

"I already thanked him," he said. "I needed the help."
So did Giants starter Jonathan Sanchez, who walked off the mound trailing 3-2 after the top of the sixth following a two-out, tie-breaking double by Aaron Miles.Moments later, Pablo Sandoval tied it back up with a towering one-out drive into the left-field bleachers off Dodgers lefty Ted Lilly. One out later, Fontenot matched his home-run total of a year ago with an equally impressive shot into the right-field arcade area.
"It says a lot about him," Giants skipper Bruce Bochy said of Fontenot, who said he didn't know he was starting until about 15 minutes before the first pitch. "He's a pro."VIDEO: Bruce Bochy postgame
"It's not how you want it written up," Fontenot said of the late notice, "but sometimes you've gotta just go with it."And sometimes you've got to just let it go, "it" being pitches out of the strike zone. That's been an emphasis this season for Sandoval, a switch hitter who batted .227 with one home run in 141 at-bats against lefties in 2010 but entered Wednesday's series finale with a team-high .388 clip against southpaws this season."I've been working hard all year on seeing more pitches, not chasing, waiting for something I can drive," said the slimmed-down Panda. "Not just from the right side, either. From both sides."
Relievers Ramon Ramirez, Javier Lopez, Sergio Romo, Jeremy Affeldt and Brian Wilson kept the Dodgers at bay thereafter, combining on three innings of two-hit work without a walk to give the Giants their fourth win in six home games since opening the season with a desultory 2-4 road trip to Los Angeles and San Diego.
"It's huge to come back and win the series after dropping the opener the way we did," Bochy said. "Winning any series any way is big, and we were able to do that twice here, so we're pretty happy about that."
Fontenot was one of three Giants with two hits on the night; right fielder Aubrey Huff went 2-for-3 with a sacrifice fly to open the scoring in the first inning, and struggling rookie first baseman Brandon Belt went 2-for-3 with a walk.
Make that previously struggling. Belt has three hits and a pair of walks in his past two games since snapping out of a funk that had an impatient fan base suggesting a trip to Triple-A might be what the doctor ordered.Instead, Belt and hitting coach Hensley Meulens have been spending some time doctoring Belt's swing, focusing on keeping his front (right) side closed to avoid "flying open" too early."It might take a few more games to get totally comfortable, but I think I figured a little something out," Belt said. "We tried a lot of things, but basically I just went back to doing what I was doing last year."Said Bochy: "This kid, he's been tested, but he can hit. When it's all said and done, he's gonna be fine."
Miles had three hits for the Dodgers, who got a solo homer from Rod Barajas in the fourth inning.Asked about his dinged-up infielders, Bochy characterized the decisions to sit Sanchez and DeRosa as cautionary. DeRosa who sent a steady stream of line drives into the bleachers during batting practice, felt the wrist flare up while doing some last-minute work in the indoor batting cage but downplayed the issue, saying it felt similar to a tweak that prompted a brief respite during spring training."I'm not concerned about it," he said.
The Giants are far from concerned about Wilson, who struggled in his first two outings of the year but struck out all three batters he faced to pick up his first save of the season Tuesday night.On Wednesday he snapped Miles' bat on a groundout to shortstop to open the ninth, got James Loney to pop out in foul ground halfway down the left-field, and struck out Jamey Carroll to start Tony Bennett's triumphant serenade of the sixth sellout crowd of San Francisco's six-game homestand."Back-to-back nights," Bochy said. "That's the last box we needed to check off with Willie."

Donald Penn: Raiders players trust McKenzie will add right pieces

Donald Penn: Raiders players trust McKenzie will add right pieces

The Raiders were pretty darn good last season. A 12-4 record proved that point. There was plenty of talent on a team with a penchant for high-wire acts in victory that masked the fact there were holes on the roster.

They need to be filled for the Raiders to improve in 2017, and new players will be imported through free agency and the draft.

Left tackle Donald Penn is excited to see who gets added, but said there’s no doubt talent is coming to Oakland. He speaks for Raiders players, who have faith that general manager Reggie McKenzie will make the right moves.

“Things that Reggie has done in past drafts have been great, and we’re looking forward to seeing what he brings back towards us,” Penn said recently during an in-studio appearance on NFL Network. “We can’t wait to get back out there healthy. We’re ready to hit the football world with a storm.”

While new guys are coming, a few might head out. The Raiders have several unrestricted free agents. Penn wants to keep his guys around – he mentioned running back Latavius Murray by name -- though he has some ideas for McKenzie’s checklist.

The Raiders don’t need much with most key players under contract – the Raiders should be less active in free agency over past offseasons – but a few key components could put this team over the top.

“If we stick to Reggie’s plan, we’ll be great,” Penn said. “I know he’s going to have a great draft, add a couple little pieces here and there – maybe somebody in the secondary to help out a little bit.

"On offense, you could always use a weapon. Maybe we get another receiver to take (pressure off Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper), but we have a good nucleus right now.”

Four players score in double figures, Stanford takes down Oregon State


Four players score in double figures, Stanford takes down Oregon State


STANFORD -- Even though Stanford has been buried in the lower half of the Pac-12 standings all season, Reid Travis isn't so sure his team is an underdog against No. 6 Oregon.

That might be a stretch considering the Ducks are making a run at the conference title but that didn't seem to matter to Travis.

"The way we're playing now is great for this time of year," Travis said following Stanford's 79-66 win over Oregon State on Wednesday. "I feel like we're really taking off. Even though our record doesn't reflect it I really do feel that we're one of the top teams so take that as you want to."

Travis had 17 points and eight rebounds to lead four players in double figures. Marcus Allen also scored 17, Dorian Pickens added 15 and Robert Cartwright had 10 as the Cardinal beat the Beavers for the 21st time in the last 23 games between the two teams at Maples Pavilion.

Stanford (14-13, 6-9 Pac-12) led by as many as 25 but had to hold on after Oregon State (5-24, 1-15) pulled within 74-63 with 3:28 left on JaQuori McLaughlin's 3-pointer.

Allen and Pickens scored back-to-back buckets for Stanford, and after Stephen Thompson's putback for Oregon State, Pickens made a 3-pointer.

"We're pointing in the right direction on both ends of the floor," Allen said. "Guys are getting good looks . and on defense we're more active. Hopefully that continues."

Drew Eubanks had 21 points and 14 rebounds for Oregon State. Gligorije Rakocevic added a season-high 16 points for the Beavers, who couldn't follow up after beating Utah last week for their first conference win of the season.

Stanford built a quick double-digit lead despite a strong start by Rakocevic. The 6-foot-11-foot center, averaging 3.8 points going into the game, matched his season high in the first half while scoring 12 points on 6 of 8 shooting.

The Cardinal countered with a more balanced attack after adjusting to the Beavers' zone defense. Travis, Allen, Cartwright and Pickens combined for 32 points in the first half to help Stanford take a 43-33 lead.

The Cardinal also controlled the boards while outscoring the Beavers 46-22 in the paint.

"For us to be at our best we're going to score from the free throw line, like we did in the Cal game, or score around the basket," Stanford coach Jerod Haase said. "Smash-mouth is a football term but if it was a basketball term I think that would be a good word for us."

Travis got Stanford going again after halftime and helped push the Cardinal lead to 69-44.

Eubanks nearly brought Oregon State back. He scored 17 points in the second half, including 13 of the Beavers' first 20.


Oregon State: The Beavers hopes of winning back-to-back games for the first time since beating Prairie View A&M and Texas-San Antonio to open the season didn't last long. They didn't play poorly - Oregon State shot close to 47 percent most of the night - but couldn't match Stanford's run coming out of halftime and never recovered.

Stanford: The win pushed the Cardinal into a tie for seventh place in the Pac-12, still nowhere near enough to get a first-round bye in the conference tournament. The outcome was never in doubt, but Haase was concerned about Stanford's mental approach.


Eubanks and Travis were both hit with technical fouls after a heated exchange in the second half. Although no punches were thrown, Eubanks suffered a bloody nose during the incident and had to be treated near the Beavers' bench.

"We're trying to go at each other as hard as possible so of course there's different plays where a lot of contact happens," Travis said. "I like that. That's how competitors act and we just moved on from it. Unfortunately they called a technical on both of us. I'd like to see us play on in that sense."


Oregon State: Plays at California on Friday night.

Stanford: Hosts No. 6 Oregon on Saturday in the final regular season home at Maples Pavilion this year. The Ducks beat the Cardinal 69-52 on Jan. 21.