A's take early lead for series victory vs. Royals

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A's take early lead for series victory vs. Royals

June 16, 2011BOX SCORE A'S VIDEOMLB PAGE MLB SCOREBOARD

OAKLAND (AP) Jemile Weeks played through some nerves, Gio Gonzalez played through an illness and the Oakland Athletics played well enough for their first series win under interim manager Bob Melvin.Weeks had two hits and drove in three runs, and Hideki Matsui homered to lead the Oakland Athletics to an 8-4 win over the Kansas City Royals on Thursday.Matsui's solo blast gave him a combined 499 homers in Japan and the U.S. and helped Oakland win a second straight game for the first time since a four-game streak May 26-29.NEWS: Melvin ejected, Matsui hits 499th career HR"The first couple of days were shaky from nerves and I just tried to stay confident," said Weeks, hitting .344 (11 for 32) since his June 7 callup. "I'm just going out there and playing as hard as I can."Melky Cabrera had two hits and drove in a run for the Royals, who lost their second straight. Jeff Francoeur, Wilson Betemit and Brayan Pena each added an RBI."He was establishing his fastball and left it up in the zone and we were chasing it," said Francoeur, who also struck out four times. "That's not a good combination, especially when you throw 94 miles an hour like he does."Daric Barton drove in two runs, and Coco Crisp and Kurt Suzuki each had an RBI in support of Gio Gonzalez (6-5), who ended a personal three-game slide for his first win since May 17."There were a couple of innings where I had to sit down and take a deep breath," Gonzalez said. "My throat is a little sore and I feel a little weak but I didn't want to show any weakness."Gonzalez allowed two runs on five hits over six innings. He walked two and struck out 10."He's usually pretty animated and he was subdued," Melvin said. "You could tell he was feeling it."Jeff Francis (3-7) gave up a season-high six runs on nine hits over 3 1-3 innings, his second- shortest outing of the season. He walked two and did not strike out a batter in a game for the first time."I was falling behind guys in certain situations and that doesn't do me any good," Francis said. "When I did throw a good pitch they put some good swings on them."Melvin earned his first ejection in an Oakland uniform, getting tossed by third base umpire Tim Tschida in the top of the third."There was some miscommunication," Melvin said. "Tim thought I was arguing with him but I was just waving my arms and yelling because I thought we weren't getting calls. It was not great form getting kicked out."Weeks' two-out double scored two runners in the second during the A's four-run rally."Hitting is contagious in my opinion and when guys are hitting like that you think, 'Well, I better go up there and get a hit,'" Weeks said.Matsui led off the third with his sixth home run of the season and third in seven games after going homerless in his previous 23 games. Barton later added his second RBI of the game."I don't know the time difference but I'm pretty sure a lot of people in Japan will be watching," Melvin said.The Royals scored twice in the fifth to make it 6-2 on Cabrera's single and Francoeur's double.Weeks singled home a run in the bottom of the fifth and Suzuki doubled home a run in the seventh.Betemit and Pena each doubled in a run for the Royals in the eighth.Notes: Francis has not won consecutive road starts since 2007. He has a 6.93 ERA away from Kansas City. ... Barton tied Sean Casey for most games to start a season without a home run by a first baseman at 63. ... Melvin plans to give Matsui a start in each of the series played in National League parks during interleague play. ... Cabrera has a hit in 12 of his past 14 games. ... Francoeur went 1 for 5 and is now 2 for 20 with seven strikeouts on the road trip. ... A's right fielder Conor Jackson had a hit and walked against Francis, improving to .436 (17 for 39) against the left-hander.

Sharks' depth players, Burns, snap cold streaks just in time

Sharks' depth players, Burns, snap cold streaks just in time

SAN JOSE – For at least one night, the Sharks’ depth players – most of which have been missing in action for weeks – found the scoresheet against the Rangers in a 5-4 overtime win on Tuesday.

It couldn’t have come at a better time. 

The Sharks were playing their first of what will surely be at least a few games without center Logan Couture, and are still in the hunt for a Pacific Division title with four of their six remaining games against Edmonton and Calgary – teams they are trying to fend off to earn home ice in the first round. And, of course, they ended a wretched six-game losing streak in which they never had a lead in any of the defeats.

Coach Pete DeBoer mentioned earlier in the week that the coaching staff had challenged the depth players to do more, especially now that their second line center is out indefinitely. The response on Tuesday included two goals from Chris Tierney (including a late game-tying score), one goal and one assist from Jannik Hansen, a shorthanded goal by Melker Karlsson, two assists from Mikkel Boedker, and an assist from Tomas Hertl.

Consider the challenge met.

“We want to score. All the depth guys know, and talked about stepping up,” Tierney said. “It's good that we broke through tonight, especially with Logan out of the lineup. We're going to have to keep doing it throughout the playoffs."

DeBoer said the internal challenge “didn’t involve much more than just ‘Hey, we need some contributions from you.’ We can’t always look to the big guys to get the job done. We got that tonight. Those guys got on the board. It’s never a lack of effort with that group, but we’re the sum of our parts. We need those guys to get on the board for us on a regular basis and they did that tonight.”

It was also surely welcomed that one of their big guys – perhaps their biggest – got the overtime winner. Brent Burns had been mired in a 16-game drought without a goal, but his slap shot got through Henrik Lundqvist half-a-minute into an overtime power play.

While the depth guys will need to continue to produce, the Sharks are going to need more from Burns, too, as the postseason approaches. The defenseman had been kept off of the scoresheet in nine of 10 games from March 5 – 21, but now has one point in each of his last three games. That’s a good sign.

Getting a goal was particularly nice, as was ending the losing skid.

“Yeah on both accounts,” Burns said. “That was a big win, especially coming back, staying resilient, getting that big goal there at the end.”

Still, with all that went right, the game was far from perfect. The Sharks allowed a 3-1 second period lead to turn into a 4-3 deficit in just a span of five minutes and seven seconds, indicating they’re still a bit fragile. Derek Stepan made it 3-2 late in the second with a power play goal, Jesper Fast scored on a deflection early in the third, and J.T. Miller gave New York its first lead of the night less than five minutes into the final frame.

“There’s still room for improvement, definitely,” Joe Pavelski said.

Still, the Sharks fought back for Tierney’s late game-tying goal with less than two minutes in regulation, setting up Burns’ overtime heroics. 

The captain sensed some displeasure from the home fans due to the blown lead, something he surely understood, but indicated that the energy level on the Sharks’ bench was still high.

“Whether you think, like, ‘Here we go again’ or not – I’m sure someone in this building thought that tonight,” Pavelski said. “Guys just kind of stuck with it, and we believed we would tie it up tonight.”

Getting that extra point in overtime brought a sense of relief.

“When you lose six straight, it's obviously a relief when you win one,” Martin Jones said. “But win or lose, we played a lot better tonight.”

 

Instant Replay: Sharks rally late, stun Rangers in OT to end skid

Instant Replay: Sharks rally late, stun Rangers in OT to end skid

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE – Despite blowing a two-goal lead, the Sharks found a way to tie their game with the Rangers late and win it in overtime, 5-4, to end their losing streak at six games.

After New York had turned a 3-1 deficit into a 4-3 lead, Chris Tierney knotted the score with just 2:15 left in regulation. Mikkel Boedker’s shot from high in the zone rattled around the slot, and Tierney was there to flip it home for this second of the night.

Brent Burns ended a 16-game goal drought with a power play goal at 3:10 in overtime, overpowering Henrik Lundqvist with a slap shot.

After Tierney had given San Jose a 3-1 lead earlier in the second period the Sharks kept up the pressure, recording seven of the next eight shots. But Patrick Marleau’s interference penalty on Jimmy Vesey gave New York a late power play and turned the game in their favor.

Derek Stepan – who was stopped on a partial breakaway midway through the first period – brought the Rangers back to within 3-2. Mats Zuccarello hummed a seam pass through Justin Braun to Stepan, who had an open net to deposit his 16th of the season in the final minutes of the second period.

In the third, Jesper Fast redirected a Brady Skjei floater at 1:24, tying the game at 3-3. A Burns tripping minor during four-on-four play offered a power play to the Rangers, and they capitalized on a J.T. Miller one-timer at 4:44, his second of the night.

The Sharks remain two points back of Anaheim for first place in the Pacific Division, and are tied with Edmonton for second.

For the first time in eight games the Sharks struck first. A newly configured third line of Tomas Hertl, Boedker and Jannik Hansen scored on its first shift together, as Hansen chopped in a loose puck at 1:44. Boedker and Hertl both got assists, ending pointless streaks of 10 games and 12 games, respectively.

Hansen’s first goal as a Shark also gave the team its first lead in more than two weeks, as it never led throughout its six-game regulation losing streak.

The Rangers tied it at 13:30 of the first on a goal by Miller, who took the puck from Paul Martin along the wall and lifted a perfectly placed wrist shot over Martin Jones’ near shoulder.

Melker Karlsson, returning from an eight-game absence, put the Sharks ahead 2-1 late in the first period with a shorthanded score. He whizzed a wrist shot past countryman Lundqvist at 18:01 while on a two-on-one with Tierney.

Tierney increased the lead to 3-1 in the middle frame, taking a shot from the slot and following up his own rebound at 11:38. It was just his second goal in the last 22 games, and eighth of the year.

The Rangers won the only other game of the season series back on Oct. 17 at Madison Square Garden, 7-4. The Sharks finished the season with a 21-7-4 mark against Eastern Conference clubs.

The Sharks were without Logan Couture, who is out indefinitely with a facial injury.

Special teams:
Two of New York’s goals came on the power play, on three opportunities. The Sharks are 11-for-15 on the PK in the last six games.

San Jose had just one power play before overtime, failing to score. Karlsson’s marker was his second shorthanded score of the season, and the Sharks’ seventh as a team.

In goal:
After allowing a career high seven goals-against on Saturday in Nashville, Jones made 24 saves on 28 shots.

Lundqvist suffered the loss with 30 saves on 35 shots.

Lineup:
Micheal Haley served a one-game suspension for punching Nashville’s Calle Jarnkrok on Saturday.

Tierney (upper body) and Marc-Edouard Vlasic (flu) both returned after missing Saturday’s game with the Predators. Marcus Sorensen came out of the lineup for Kevin Labanc, who was recalled on Tuesday morning and skated on the top line.

New York’s Skjei had three assists.

Up next:
The Sharks have six games remaining in the regular season – two each against Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver.

A three-game road trip against each of those division rivals begins on Thursday with the Oilers, as the clubs battle for home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs, and continues on Friday against the Flames and Sunday versus the Canucks.