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."

Barracuda power play leads the way in Game 2 win over Grand Rapids


Barracuda power play leads the way in Game 2 win over Grand Rapids

SAN JOSE – The Barracuda struck for three power play goals, including the game-winner in the second period by Joakim Ryan, in overcoming the Grand Rapids Griffins at SAP Center on Sunday night, 4-2.

San Jose’s victory evens the best-of-seven Western Conference Finals series at one game apiece.

Grand Rapids erased a 2-0 hole to tie the game in the middle frame, but less than a minute after Matt Ford knotted the score at 2-2 with a rocket from the circle on a Griffins power play, Ryan’s blast from just inside the blue line at 15:28 staked the Barracuda a lead they would keep for the rest of the night. 

The Barracuda finished 3-for-5 on the power play, after going 0-for-6 in a Game 1 loss on Saturday.

“The power play was a lot better tonight,” Ryan said. “We got set up more. We were able to get shots through from the point.”

One of those shots came early, when defenseman Julius Berman beat goalie Jared Coreau from long range just 3:35 into the game with San Jose on a man advantage. Later in the first, on another power play, Ryan Carpenter found open ice in the slot and redirected a Tim Heed pass at 10:44 for his team-leading eighth of the playoffs.

“Coming out, we wanted to get the first goal tonight,” Carpenter said. “For Bergman to get that first goal was huge for us.”

Ryan and Carpenter both attributed the power play success to winning faceoffs, which is something coach Roy Sommer wanted the club to focus on after it dropped the series opener, 3-1.

Winning faceoffs often is an indication of a team’s compete level, and that, too, was lacking for the Barracuda in an opener in which Sommer said his team played “dumb and slow.” 

Sunday was a much better performance.

“Whenever we’ve had a bad start, or a bad game, the next day these guys have responded,” said Sommer, whose club is the top seed in the Western Conference. “They’ve done it all year.”

The series now shifts to Grand Rapids for the next three games, with Game 3 going Wednesday. The primary affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings, the Griffins posted a 25-11-2 record in their own building in the regular season.

The Barracuda, though, should be a confident group on the road. Against San Diego in the second round, San Jose won all three games in Southern California after splitting the first two at home.

“It’s going to be a hell of a series,” Sommer said. “It’s probably going to go the duration, I imagine. Both teams are kind of feeling each other out and kind of have a pretty good idea of what the other guys are doing now.”

Ryan said: “Honestly, I think they are the team in the league that plays the most like us. I felt like last night they did a better job of taking the game to us. I thought we came out better tonight, and we battled harder, competed more, won more pucks. They’re a really good team, it’s going to be a battle the rest of the series, for sure. They’re not going to lay down.”

Barclay Goodrow’s empty netter with 1:06 left in regulation was the only goal in the third period.

The Barracuda outshot the Griffins, 40-35, including a 20-11 advantage in the first period.

No sweep here: Without Isaiah Thomas, Celtics stun Cavs in Game 3

No sweep here: Without Isaiah Thomas, Celtics stun Cavs in Game 3


CLEVELAND — Avery Bradley's 3-pointer dropped in with less than a second left and the Boston Celtics, blown out in the first two games of the Eastern Conference finals and playing without star Isaiah Thomas, stunned the Cleveland Cavaliers 111-108 on Sunday night in Game 3 to end the champions' 13-game postseason winning streak.

Bradley's shot from the left wing bounced on the rim four times before going down. It capped a furious comeback by the Celtics, who trailed by 21 in the third quarter before rallying to tighten up a series that appeared to be over.

Marcus Smart scored 27 points, and Bradley had 20 for the Celtics. They were given little chance after losing by 44 in Game 2 and then losing Thomas for the rest of the postseason because of a hip injury.

Kyrie Irving scored 29 points, and Kevin Love 28 for Cleveland. The Cavaliers dropped to 10-1 in the postseason with their first loss since Game 4 of last year's Finals.