A's steal win in 9th, losing streak comes to an end

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A's steal win in 9th, losing streak comes to an end

June 10, 2011BOX SCORE A'S VIDEOMLB PAGE MLB SCOREBOARD
CHICAGO (AP) One strike from their 11th consecutive loss, the Oakland Athletics showed interim manager Bob Melvin the desire to win is still there.Scott Sizemore hit a go-ahead three-run double to rally the Oakland Athletics past the Chicago White Sox 7-5 Friday night."Until you make that last out and that last strike, you're still alive," Melvin said. "During streaks like that, you go down easy at the end and tonight that just wasn't the case. That's always a sign that you're going to come out of it."The A's won their first game under Melvin. Oakland made the majors' first managerial change of 2011 by firing Bob Geren after four-plus seasons Thursday and replacing him with Melvin."Did you see everybody up on the railing?" Melvin asked. "They did that on their own. I noticed at the beginning of the inning, everybody that who was at the back of the bench came up to the top rail because everybody had a good feeling about the way we were playing tonight. I know it came down to one pitch and we were one pitch away from losing, but everybody was encouraging their teammates."Trailing 5-3 in the ninth, White Sox closer Sergio Santos (2-3) retired the first two batters and had Josh Willingham in an 0-2 count before walking him. Hideki Matsui followed with an RBI single to cut the White Sox lead to a run. Santos then walked Daric Barton and hit Kurt Suzuki with a breaking ball to load the bases. Sizemore then split the left-center gap to give the Athletics a 7-5 lead."Santos throws hard, so if you're not ready for the fastball he'll blow you away," said Sizemore, who was playing in just his third game with the A's since being acquired from Detroit on May 27."It was a great feeling to help the team get a win," Sizemore added. "Just felt really good to contribute."Santos allowed three runs in Wednesday's loss to the Mariners."This one hurt, I will be honest with you," said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen. "(Santos) just lost it. He tried to be too aggressive."Santos has allowed runs in just three of his 25 appearances this year, but has been tagged for three or more runs in all three instances."It's baseball, I wish I could get the job done every time but that's not possible so I have to be ready for tomorrow, whenever they call on me, whatever the situation is I will be ready to go out there and do my job," he said.Grant Balfour (4-1) pitched a scoreless eighth for the victory and Andrew Bailey pitched a perfect ninth for his first save of the season.Paul Konerko hit a two-run homer and A.J. Pierzynski had three hits for the White Sox, who failed to gain ground in the AL Central despite Cleveland and Detroit both losing.The A's had had 13 hits in avoiding losing 11 straight for the first time since a 12-game slide April 19-30, 1994. Oakland came into the game batting .219 (75 for 343) during the 10-game losing streak.Cliff Pennington and Sizemore led the A's with three hits.White Sox starter Edwin Jackson pitched six innings and allowed two runs on eight hits.Graham Godfrey made his major league debut with Brett Anderson sidelined by elbow soreness. Godfrey allowed five runs on nine hits over 4 1-3 innings."I thought he battled pretty well," Melvin said. "Two-out walks will kill you. You saw him get out of sorts a little bit, then bring it back."Godfrey was 7-1 with a 2.50 ERA for Sacramento. The 26-year old right-hander started one game for Double-A Midland before being promoted to Sacramento."In the middle of my outing, I was attacking hitters and getting ahead. That's what made me more successful," Godfrey said. "I definitely got a lot of positives to work off of."Trailing 1-0 in the first inning, Carlos Quentin drew a two-out walk, then Konerko followed with his 16th home run and second in as many days to put Chicago ahead. It was Konerko's ninth straight game with an extra-base hit, setting a franchise record.The White Sox left the bases loaded after Godfrey struck out Gordon Beckham.Konerko is 20-42 with six doubles, six home runs and 14 RBIs during his 11-game hitting streak, raising his average from .287 to .321. He has hit six home runs in his last nine games.Jemile Weeks led off the third with a triple. Center fielder Alex Rios had a bad read on the ball and initially turned in the wrong direction as the ball went over his head. Weeks later scored on Pennington's infield single to tie the score at two.The White Sox got the lead back for Jackson in the fifth. Alexei Ramirez led off with a double, then Quentin followed a slow bouncer to third baseman Sizemore. Sizemore made an off-balanced throw to first which got away from Barton. Ramirez ended up scoring on the throwing error.Godfrey was chased after giving up a single to Pierzynski. Quentin hustled into third on the hit to right and Pierzynski took second on the throw. Quentin ended up scoring on Rios' groundout and Adam Dunn drove in Pierzynski on a single to give the White Sox a 5-2 lead.With one out in the first, Pennington doubled down the left-field line. One out later, Pennington scored on Willingham's single.Coco Crisp scored on pinch-hitter Conor Jackson's groundout in the seventh.NOTES: Konerko previously shared the consecutive extra-base hit streak with Al Simmons, who set it in 1935. ... Rios and Dunn drove in a run in the same game this season for the third time this season. ... Quentin extended his hitting streak to 12 games. ... Pennington has four hits in eight at-bats in the No. 2 hole since Melvin moved him there from hitting ninth, a move Melvin called "an easy decision."

Giants Notes: Blach shows resiliency; Another option in center?

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Giants Notes: Blach shows resiliency; Another option in center?

CHICAGO — John Lackey's night started with a leadoff homer. Ty Blach's night started with a 13-pitch battle. Neither one is a positive for a pitcher, but Blach didn't view it that way. He actually appreciated Ben Zobrist stretching him out.

"It's good to have a battle like that and get you locked in," Blach said. "It gets you focused and you'll be like, I can execute and get guys out. It's good. It's a good battle."

There, in a nutshell, is so much of what Bruce Bochy loves about his young left-hander. The Giants have found Blach's arm and resolve to be remarkably resilient. He wasn't bothered when they moved him to the bullpen and he didn't get too high when they moved him back to the rotation. He is the same after seven shutout innings or three poor ones. Bochy smiled when asked about the Zobrist at-bat, which ended in a strikeout looking. 

"How 'bout that?" the manager said. "He won that at-bat. It seems like the advantage goes to the hitter, seeing all those pitches. He kept his focus and got a called strikeout and here he is pitching in the eighth inning."

After needing 13 pitches for one out, Blach got the next 23 on 81 pitches. Bochy thought Blach tired a bit in the eighth, but the deep effort allowed Bochy to mix and match in the bullpen, and ultimately he found the right mix. Hunter Strickland and Mark Melancon closed it out and got Blach his second win.

--- From last night, Joe Panik's huge night helped give Blach an early lead. With the help of Ron Wotus and his shift charts, he also put on a show defensively.

--- We're trying something new right after the final pitch: Here are five quick takeaways from the 6-4 win.

--- The options game sent Kelby Tomlinson back to Triple-A on Wednesday when the Giants activated Melancon, but his latest stint in Sacramento comes with a twist. Tomlinson started his third consecutive game in center field on Monday. The Giants are getting a bit more serious about their longtime plan to make Tomlinson a super-utility player. 

“Tommy is a valuable guy in the majors and if we can give him some experience in the outfield, it gives you more flexibility and versatility,” manager Bruce Bochy said. 

This is not Tomlinson’s first foray into the outfield. He did work there in the offseason after the 2015 season and he has played 25 big league innings in left field the last two seasons. This is Tomlinson’s first real experience with center field, and while in the past he has said that the transition isn’t as easy as some might think, Bochy is confident Tomlinson can figure it out. He certainly has the speed to be a semi-regular in the outfield, and the Giants aren’t exactly brimming with quality center field options behind Denard Span, who is dealing with his second injury of the season. 

“It’s a little different now,” Bochy said when asked about Tomlinson’s past experiences in the outfield. “He’s in Sacramento doing it, and knowing there’s a possibility we could need help in the outfield.”

If the switch doesn’t come in handy this season, it could in 2018. Bochy compared Tomlinson’s infield-outfield ability to Eduardo Nuñez, who has found regular playing time in left but is a free agent after the year. 

--- Hunter Pence did some light running in the outfield before Monday’s game. Bochy said Pence is still about a week away from being an option.

--- Bochy has said it a few times now when asked about the standings, so it’s officially a new motto for a team that got off to a brutal start: “We’ve put ourselves in a great situation for a great story.”

--- They're starting to get a little grumpy around here with their team hovering around .500. Perhaps the Cubs thought they could fool a few on the way out of Wrigley.

Agony still present, Kerr uncertain if he can coach Warriors in NBA Finals

Agony still present, Kerr uncertain if he can coach Warriors in NBA Finals

SAN ANTONIO -- Those following the Warriors and their effort to rage through the playoffs should put away those thoughts and hopes that Steve Kerr will return to full-time coaching later this week or sometime before the NBA Finals.

Forget about it, unless you know something he doesn’t.

And if you do, he wants to hear what you have to say.

Don’t get it wrong: Kerr wants to coach, would love to coach. That’s why, even as he feels like hell, he’s hanging around the team like a languid groupie. He wants to be with the Warriors in the heat of battle because they’re his team, within the culture he instilled, and he would like nothing more to get another chance to win The Finals.

But because the procedure he underwent more than two weeks ago at Duke Spine Center did not deliver the relief he’d hoped for, Kerr knows he’s not up to the task and, therefore, continues to operate as sort of a associate head coach to acting head coach Mike Brown.

“Mike is doing great,” Kerr told NBCSportsBayArea.com late Monday night, after the Warriors clinched a third consecutive trip to the NBA Finals with a 129-115 Game 4 win over the Spurs. “He’s such a wonderful human being. He’s so unselfish and team-oriented. I’m proud of him and the job he’s doing, along with the rest of the staff. I wish I could be out there with them. And maybe I will. I don’t know. We’ll see.

“He’s a great partner. And we’re in this together, obviously, but he’s got to make decisions with the staff without me. He’s done a great job of navigating the games. We’re undefeated, so he’s doing something right.”

Kerr can only help from the perimeter. The demands of the job require the coach be able to function at near-peak levels, particularly before and during a game, and he simply can’t. He knows there will be times, all too often, when the discomfort becomes unbearable to such a degree he hardly can think straight.

The agony is visible. The players see it. The staff sees it. Brown sees it, feels it and hears it. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is one of Kerr’s best friends -- as well as a good friend of Brown -- was able to see it during the Western Conference Finals.

“I've spoken with Steve and Mike; we're friends,” Popovich said two hours before Game 4. “We've known each other a long time. But as far as Steve's concerned, it's just a crap situation.

“You know, he's done a phenomenal job. And when you're going through that pain every day and that frustration of not being able to do what you want to do, it's hard to enjoy it at the fullest level. So I feel badly for him all the time but hopeful that stuff will get figured out.”

Nobody wants that more than Kerr, who has tried nearly everything any respectable specialist has recommended. So far, there has been no miracle.

So Kerr forges ahead, getting his Warriors fix by being around the group. By meeting with coaches and players. By meeting with general manager Bob Myers. Kerr was with the Warriors throughout their stay in San Antonio. He was at practices and shootarounds, sometimes on the floor and sometimes sitting in the stands observing from afar.

“I need to be around the guys,” he said. “I don’t want to miss this. Just being in the locker room, being able to talk to the guys means a lot to me. I’m thrilled for them. It’s fun to see how happy they are with three straight trips to The Finals. It’s pretty incredible.”

Kerr has been with the team for at least a few hours every day since May 10, less than a week after his procedure at Duke.

Kerr’s presence has been invaluable, both physically and psychologically, according to staff and players.

“Coach just empowers everybody,” Kevin Durant said. “His message is still the same. Even when he wasn't there in the Utah series, you could still feel his presence. That's what great leaders do.”

Participation, making himself feel useful, is one form of therapy that gives Kerr a semi-satisfying break from the misery.

“He watches film, and he watches the game,” Brown said. “So he gives his perspective from where he is. He gives insight on what we should be doing going forward, what he felt we could have done better, what we did that was good. So he just gives his input, mainly. He addresses the team every once in a while. He doesn't always do that, but he'll address the team from time to time.”

There was some belief that Kerr could return to full-time coaching within a week or so after the procedure, for which he declined to provide details. Warriors CEO Joe Lacob expressed hope Kerr might return “sooner rather than later.” Had it been as successful as Kerr and the doctors hoped, he would have.

That was May 5. Kerr announced he was stepping aside on April 23. As of Wednesday, he was been on leave for a full month.

Asked if he plans to travel during the NBA Finals, Kerr said he hopes so: “It’s like a month away,” he said, exaggerating the nine-day layoff.

He’d rather say with certainty that, yes, he will be accompanying the team because, after all, he’s the head coach.

And he will say that, the moment his body tells him it’s OK to do so.