Willingham powers A's to 6-4 win, sweep of O's

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Willingham powers A's to 6-4 win, sweep of O's

May 29, 2011BOXSCORE A'SVIDEOMLBPAGE MLBSCOREBOARD
OAKLAND (AP) Home runs are such a rare commodity for the Athletics that manager Bob Geren stood up and started celebrating when Josh Willingham's three-run shot sailed into the left-field stands Sunday.Willingham's go-ahead homer capped a four-run fifth inning and propelled the A's to a 6-4 win over the Baltimore Orioles, completing Oakland's first three-game sweep this season."When he hits them, you don't even have to look," Geren said after Willingham's second homer in his last three games. "The sound of the ball off the bat, you just turn around and start high-fiving everybody."It's only the fourth three-run shot of the season for Oakland, which has the third-fewest home runs (30) in the majors. Twenty-one of them have been solo drives.Kevin Kouzmanoff added two hits for Oakland, which extended its longest winning streak this season to four games. The A's also continued their home dominance of the Orioles with their 12th win in 13 tries at the Coliseum."The clubhouse is completely different when you're winning," said Willingham, who also drove in Oakland's first run with a single. "We're playing more consistent baseball, and as a team that's all you can ask for is to be consistent in all three phases of the game and play up to your capabilities. I feel like we have been lately."Oakland got a boost from two-time All-Star closer Andrew Bailey, who made his season debut after being sidelined with a strained right forearm. He pitched a scoreless seventh.
GUTIERREZ: Geren looks smarter when bullpen does its job
Vladimir Guerrero singled in the eighth to extend his hitting streak to 14 games, but the Orioles couldn't score against four relievers after putting up four in the fifth. They wound up dropping their third straight on the road after a five-game winning streak at home."That one inning we pushed four across. That's pretty hard to quarrel with," Baltimore Buck Showalter said. "But we had some other opportunities. We just didn't get it done."Guillermo Moscoso (2-0) gave up five hits with two walks to earn his second straight win after being called up from the minors on May 24 to replace injured starter Tyson Ross.Craig Breslow, Bailey and Grant Balfour each pitched one scoreless inning and Brian Fuentes worked the ninth for his 11th save in 13 tries.Baltimore led 4-1 after loading the bases against Moscoso in the top of the inning - then scoring four runs with only one hit.Felix Pie had an RBI single that A's center fielder Coco Crisp appeared to make a diving catch on before the ball popped out of his glove after hitting the ground. Nolan Reimold, pushed into action when center fielder Adam Jones left with a sore shoulder, then drew a bases-loaded walk and Nick Markakis and Guerrero added run-scoring groundouts.The loss of Jones left the Orioles without their leading run producer.That's significant for a team that has struggled to score on this road trip. After getting four runs against Moscoso, Baltimore managed only two baserunners over the final four innings.The A's got a lift from Bailey, who had been on the DL since March 30. The 2009 AL Rookie of the Year retired all three batters he faced as Oakland tries to ease him back into the mix.
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"He looked good," Geren said. "I thought his stuff was pretty much normal. From the side it looked like vintage Andrew Bailey, which is a huge plus for us."Oakland gave Bailey a 6-4 lead to work with after chasing Baltimore starter Zach Britton in the sixth. Daric Barton hit a sacrifice fly to drive in Mark Ellis after the O's intentionally walked Crisp to load the bases.Britton (5-3) was tagged for career highs of six runs and 10 hits. The left-hander, who was attempting to tie Jake Arrieta for the team lead in wins, walked three and struck out three.Willingham singled to drive in Barton in the first with the A's first run. In 16 career games against the Orioles, Willingham is batting .400 with four home runs and 12 RBIs.NOTES: Baltimore sent struggling RHP Brad Bergesen to Triple-A Norfolk and called up LHP Pedro Viola from Double-A Bowie. Bergesen (1-6) took the loss in Saturday's game. After the game, the team also optioned RHP Chris Tillman to Norfolk but did not announce a corresponding move. ... To make room for Bailey the A's optioned LHP Bobby Cramer to Triple-A Sacramento. Cramer was called up Friday when Oakland traded David Purcey to Detroit but did not pitch against Baltimore.

Myers: 'It's painful' that Kerr not able to treasure being in NBA Finals

Myers: 'It's painful' that Kerr not able to treasure being in NBA Finals

OAKLAND -- Warriors coach Steve Kerr is no closer to resuming full-time duties than he was a week ago, or even a month ago.

Out since April 23, when he announced he was taking a leave of absence to address chronic pain in the wake of multiple back surgeries nearly two years ago, Kerr has been a constant presence the past two weeks but not on the bench during games.

“He’s doing everything but coaching, but at this point, he’s not able to coach,” general manager Bob Myers said Thursday after practice. “I wish could say that he was. I’m sure he wishes he could as well. But that’s where we are.

“If something changes and he feels better, I’ll sit here or, better -- he would sit here -- and tell you. But right now, I can’t say that he’s going to be coaching.”

Though Kerr did not address media Thursday, he indicated earlier this week that he would be comfortable going into the NBA Finals, which begin June 1, with acting head coach Mike Brown at the helm.

“We’re 12-0,” Kerr told NBCSportsBayArea.com. “I feel great about where the team is. I know we can play better. I think the challenge we’re about to face, one way or the other, is going to take us to another level.”

The Warriors under Kerr finished the regular season with a league-best 67-15 mark, earning the No. 1 overall seed for the playoffs. Kerr coached Games 1 and 2 of the first round against Portland before surrendering head coaching duties to Brown.

The Warriors are 10-0 since Brown took over, 27-1 over their last 28 games since March 11.

Still, they would like Kerr to regain health and join them in their quest for a second championship in three years.

“It’s hard for me; I’m kind of in this basketball mode,” Myers said. “But he’s a person and he’s not feeling well. And that’s what makes it hard. More than how it reflects on our team is how he’s feeling that makes it very difficult to have to sit here and say that the man that’s hugely responsible for us being in The Finals for three years in a row, in a moment that he should be treasuring, can’t do it.

“It’s painful. And I know it’s painful for him, more than anybody. And I wish and he wishes and I’m sure you guys do, too, that there was something that could get him there. But right now, we’re not at that point.”

Giants notes: 'Disappointing' road trip; Nuñez hopes to return Friday

Giants notes: 'Disappointing' road trip; Nuñez hopes to return Friday

CHICAGO — As they packed up at AT&T Park eight days ago, the Giants talked of taking their momentum on the road. It sounded pie-in-the-sky given the way they had played in April and on the previous trip, but when they took the first two in St. Louis, players started to believe they had finally turned the corner. 

And then came a Sunday loss, and three of four at Wrigley Field. There was no happy flight Thursday. The Giants lost 5-1, again looking flat against a less-than-elite pitcher, and ended up with a 3-4 trip. They’ll finish the first two months of the season without a winning road trip. They're 9-19 away from AT&T Park. 

“It’s disappointing,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “Once you win the first one here, you’re hoping you get greedy and take the series, but we didn’t. That’s disappointing.”

The Giants entered the road trip with a 6.62 starters’ ERA on the road, but pitching wasn’t the issue. Sure there were too many meatballs — most of the 10 Cubs homers in this series came on pitches left right over the fat part of the plate — but the starters did their job. The lineup couldn’t keep up. The Giants had just five hits Thursday and finished the trip with 24 runs in seven games. They started the trip nine games out in the West and finished 11 back of the Rockies, their largest deficit since 2013. 

“You come here and take the first game with our (top) guys throwing after that and you’re hoping for a better result,” Jeff Samardzija said. “We started out good and that St. Louis series puts you in a good spot to salvage the trip. We’ll go home now with six solid games on our home turf and they’re six big games for us.”

The Braves and Nationals come to town. The Giants will see Jaime Garcia on Friday, followed by Mike Foltynewicz and R.A. Dickey. 

--- Samardzija’s run without a walk ended at 154 batters when Ian Happ drew a free pass in the seventh. The streak was the best of Samardzija’s career. 

--- Eduardo Nuñez said he got treatment on a tight hamstring throughout the game and he’ll go in early Friday to continue treatment. He hopes to start Friday. 

--- Christian Arroyo was hitless in three at-bats, dropping his average to .191. Before the game, Bochy talked at length about Arroyo’s recent struggles and the plan with him going forward. 

--- If you missed it earlier, I took a tour of the visiting bullpen here. After going in there, I talked to some more pitchers about what they don’t like. It seems to mostly be the fact that you’re separated from the game. One said some of the relievers who pitched Monday had no idea it was raining because they had been getting loose inside for several innings. Seems like there’s a pretty easy fix here: The Cubs can just turn part of that Under Armour wall into a chain-link fence, or have some sort of window that opens up to the outside but doesn’t interfere with outfielders. Maybe next year …