Streaking Giants charge into Wrigley


Streaking Giants charge into Wrigley

May 13, 2011

GIANTS (21-16) vs.
CHICAGO (16-20)

Coverage begins at 10:30 A.M. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area

CHICAGO (AP) -- An undefeated homestand helped propel the San Francisco Giants into sole possession of first place in the NL West for the first time this season. A weekend in Chicago could help them remain at the top.

The Giants look for a seventh consecutive win overall while trying to continue their success against the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Friday.

Following a 1-4 start, the reigning World Series champions have climbed back atop the division by one game over Colorado after giving up 10 runs while sweeping a six-game homestand against the Rockies and Arizona.

"That's definitely the homestand we needed," said Matt Cain, who pitched 7 2-3 innings to earn the victory in Thursday's 3-2 win over the Diamondbacks.

URBAN: Cain masterful, Giants win again

The Giants (21-16), winners in eight of nine, will try to continue that success at Wrigley, where they've held a 26-10 scoring advantage while taking four of the last six. San Francisco has won six of eight overall against the Cubs.

The club hopes pitching in Chicago will help Madison Bumgarner (0-5, 4.21 ERA) earn his first win in his eighth start. The left-hander is 1-0 with a 2.13 ERA in two starts against the Cubs, earning the win while striking out nine in seven innings of a 13-0 victory at Wrigley on Sept. 23.

Despite his 2011 record, Bumgarner has allowed two earned runs and struck out 19 over 19 innings during his last three starts. His teammates, however, have totaled three runs in those games.

All those came in a 3-2 win over Colorado on Saturday - the Giants' first victory in Bumgarner's seven starts. He pitched six shutout innings before allowing the first four batters to reach in the seventh, resulting in two runs - one earned.

"I don't care if I don't win a game all year if we win; if it works out like that, I don't care," Bumgarner told the Giants' official website.

Andres Torres doubled Thursday and went 4 for 10 with two RBIs in the three-game set with Arizona in his return after missing a month with a strained Achilles' tendon. The center fielder is 6 for 16 with two doubles and two RBIs in his last five games versus Chicago, but 0 for 7 with three strikeouts against scheduled starter Ryan Dempster (1-4, 7.20).

The right-hander is 2-8 with a 5.28 ERA in 13 starts versus San Francisco after allowing nine runs in 1 2-3 innings while losing to Bumgarner in September. Dempster, however, has been solid despite an 0-1 record in his last two outings overall, giving up three runs and 11 hits in 14 innings against the Dodgers and Reds.

He will try to help the Cubs (16-20) bounce back after dropping two of three to both Cincinnati and St. Louis to begin a nine-game homestand.

"This is a tough stretch," manager Mike Quade said. "The frustration for me is that we're inconsistent."

One day after breaking out for an 11-4 win over the Cardinals, Chicago went 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position in Thursday's 9-1 loss to St. Louis. The Cubs are among the major league leaders batting .276, but are hitting .227 with runners in scoring position.

"You start pressing on it and it becomes its own monster," said utilityman Jeff Baker, who had three hits Thursday.

Chicago is batting .176 in its last six home games versus San Francisco, but Alfonso Soriano - hitting .304 with five homers and eight RBIs his last 12 games - is 3 for 5 with three doubles versus Bumgarner.

Cal blows huge halftime lead, dropped by Oregon on Brooks' game-winner


Cal blows huge halftime lead, dropped by Oregon on Brooks' game-winner


BERKELEY -- Dylan Brooks hit a 3-pointer with 0.2 seconds to play to cap a comeback from 16 points down and No. 6 Oregon beat California 68-65 on Wednesday night to keep its hopes alive for a Pac-12 title.

The Ducks (25-4, 14-2) trailed by 16 points early in the second half and were down 10 with just over 4 minutes left before rallying for the win that moved them a half-game behind Arizona for first place in the conference. Oregon holds the tiebreaker.

Brooks led the Ducks with 22 points and Chris Boucher added 18.

Jabari Bird scored 20 points to lead the way for the Golden Bears (18-9, 9-6), whose hopes for an NCAA Tournament berth were dealt a big blow with this loss.

Consecutive 3-pointers by Boucher, Dylan Ennis and Payton Pritchard cut Cal's 10-point lead to one with just under 3 minutes left. Boucher then gave the Ducks their first lead of the game with a layup that made it 62-61 with 1:48 to go.

Grant Mullins and Brooks traded jumpers before Bird missed a contested 3-pointer with 28 seconds to go. Tyler Dorsey hit one free throw before Ivan Rabb tied the game with a putback of his own miss with 9.7 seconds to play.

That set the stage for Brooks, who hit the 3 that set off a wild celebration for the Ducks.


Oregon: The Ducks finished the season undefeated at home where they have a nation's best 42-game winning streak. They need to prove they can win away from home if they want to have success in the postseason. This comeback win was a start but the task will only get tougher in the Pac-12 and NCAA Tournaments.

California: The Bears had been seeking a signature win to boost their hopes for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. But they blew the lead and a chance at that win as they fell to 1-6 against ranked teams with the only win coming last month at then-No. 25 USC. Cal could get another shot at a top team next month in the Pac-12 Tournament.


Oregon: Visits Stanford on Saturday.

California: Hosts Oregon State on Friday.

A's spring training Day 9: Alcantara trying to add new wrinkle

A's spring training Day 9: Alcantara trying to add new wrinkle

MESA, Ariz. — Right-hander Raul Alcantara, who could factor in as a starting or long relief option for the A’s, is experimenting with a split-finger fastball this spring.

Alcantara, who made five late-season starts last season in his first big league call-up, threw the pitch for the first time to hitters Tuesday, so he’s still in the infant stages with it. The A’s would like Alcantara to develop a solid third pitch to go with his fastball and changeup, though he does dabble with a curve and cutter too.

“In general, we’re looking for a ball that’s gonna dive, something where the bottom’s gonna fall out,” Oakland bullpen coach Scott Emerson said.

Alcantara, 24, faces crowded competition for the No. 5 starter spot with Jesse Hahn, Andrew Triggs and Paul Blackburn among those also going for it. Claiming the last spot in a seven-man bullpen is a possibility, though the A’s could surely utilize a second left-hander to go along with Sean Doolittle.

Making Alcantara’s case more interesting is that he’s out of minor league options, meaning he would need to make it through waivers unclaimed before the A’s could send him down.

Alcantara throws a hard changeup that clocked 86-87 miles per hour last season. Ideally, Emerson said his splitter would settle in the low 80’s.

Speaking through interpreter Juan Dorado, Alcantara said he’s gradually getting a feel for the new pitch.

“Obviously it’s a little more difficult on the hitters to know that there’s a different pitch,” he said. “They’re used to me throwing a fastball, a cutter and a change, and now implementing a split would just help me out to show them something different.”

CAMP BATTLE: Lefty Ross Detwiler, who re-signed with Oakland in the winter on a minor league deal, offers depth as a potential swing man who can start or relieve. Detwiler went 2-4 with a 6.14 ERA in nine games (seven starts) last season for the A’s. Those numbers look ugly in a short sample size, but Melvin values the veteran beyond what the stats show.

“I think he liked being here and we wanted him back.”

QUOTABLE: “I must be a little behind this year because the guys are hitting me a little harder than they normally do. Healy took me over the batter’s eye three times in a row.” — Melvin, who throws a couple rounds of batting practice every day.

NOTEWORTHY: The A’s will hold a pair of two-inning intrasquad games Thursday at the Lew Wolff Training Complex, with both set to start at 11:40 a.m.