Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Lincecum outduels Jimenez to propel Giants past Rockies

Darren Ford (FSY) arrived from Class AA in the second inning following a delayed flight and missed connection. Then, he got thrown right into a tie game and a pennant race in his major league debut.
Manager Bruce Bochy gambled with a speedy yet nervous rookie — and it paid off, for ace Tim Lincecum (FSY) and the San Francisco Giants.
Ford entered as a pinch-runner and scored the go-ahead run from second base on a wild pitch and throwing error in the eighth inning, helping Lincecum end a career-worst five-start skid in a 2-1 victory over Colorado on Wednesday night.
BOX SCORE: Giants 2, Rockies 1
CORPAS: Rockies reliever to undergo Tommy John surgery
"I knew it would be bang-bang," Bochy said. "I'll say this, the kid didn't hesitate. He can fly. That's a great call-up. He comes up and helps us win the game. He showed no fear up there."
Ubaldo Jimenez (FSY) (17-6) was denied in his fifth attempt at a franchise-record 18th win. He lost his third consecutive start and fourth consecutive decision dating to a win over San Francisco on Aug. 4.
He struck out 10 in eight innings, allowing only three hits.
"You want to talk about a hard-luck loser," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "The way he was throwing the ball tonight, it wouldn't have taken too many (runs), I can promise you that."
The Giants gained another game on the first-place Padres, pulling within three games in the NL West race after San Diego lost its seventh in a row.
"You never lose sight of winning your division," Bochy said.
Ford, on second after Lincecum's sacrifice bunt, broke for third when Jimenez's pitch bounced in the dirt and off catcher Miguel Olivo's (FSY) shin guard. Olivo scrambled to his left and quickly retrieved the ball before firing past lunging third baseman Melvin Mora (FSY).
"I know what my role is, to go out there and try to steal a base and get in scoring position," said Ford, who impressed Bochy way back in spring training. "I trust my instincts."
Lincecum (12-9) won for the first time since July 30. He hung tough in an impressive pitchers' duel between the two-time reigning NL Cy Young Award winner and the guy who may unseat him for the honor this season.
"I had a different mentality," Lincecum said. "This is a big moment and I've got to step up. I wanted to start off the month well."
Ford came through hours after being called up from Class AA Richmond. Veterans Aubrey Huff (FSY) and Pat Burrell (FSY) exchanged chest slaps, while Pablo Sandoval (FSY) greeted Ford with a big hug in the dugout.
Lincecum allowed five hits, struck out nine and walked one in eight innings. All-Star closer Brian Wilson (FSY) pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his NL-leading 38th save in 42 chances.
Second baseman Freddy Sanchez (FSY), facing the outfield, made an over-the-shoulder catch on Mora's popup to end it. Sanchez laid flat on his back in relief as the crowd at AT&T Park roared.
Carlos Gonzalez (FSY) homered to start the fourth for the Rockies, who did little else against Lincecum on a night the hard-throwing right-hander looked like his old self again. Gonzalez had three of Colorado's five hits.
Winning this series for the Giants was huge considering they dropped the opener Monday on a bizarre broken-bat triple. San Francisco leaves town for a 10-game road trip all against the division.
Jimenez didn't allow a hit until Jose Guillen (FSY) singled to right leading off the fifth. Buster Posey (FSY) walked and Sandoval struck out swinging before Mike Fontenot's (FSY) RBI single made it 1-all.
Jimenez has a 2.92 ERA over his last five starts.
"That's part of life and that's part of baseball," Jimenez said. "Things one day are going to go your way and then the other time it's going to be the other way. You never know when it's going to change. The only thing I can do is just try to keep going hard and giving my team a chance."
Lincecum of anybody understands a tough stretch. This outing, he pushed any thoughts of mechanics out of his mind and just pitched.
Lincecum went 1-3 last September and expects more from himself this time to keep his team in the playoff chase. They haven't been to the postseason since 2003.
"This is going to be a big month for us," Lincecum said. "I'm going to try to take that momentum into the next series."
Colorado now heads home for a makeup game with the Phillies on Thursday before traveling to San Diego for a key weekend series.
Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (FSY) returned to the Rockies' lineup after missing two games with a sore left groin. He went 0-for-4 and had his hitting streak snapped at 10 games.
Notes: The Giants activated SS Edgar Renteria (FSY) and LHP reliever Dan Runzler (FSY) from the disabled list. Renteria wasn't in the starting lineup after his third DL stint and manager Bruce Bochy said Juan Uribe (FSY) would get most of the work at that spot the rest of the way.

Politics aside, USA beats Iran to secure a top seed at worlds

n the political arena, Iran vs. the United States is a matchup that gets attention.
In a basketball arena, not so much.
"For me, it's a normal game," Iran captain Mahdi Kamrany said.
The United States won it easily, earning a top seed in the knockout round of the world championships with an 88-51 victory Wednesday in the first meeting between the countries with a history of contentious relations.
The U.S. team, which downplayed the political aspect of the game, methodically pulled away in the first half, wearing down the Asian champions with its depth and athleticism.
ROUNDUP: Argentina, Spain, Angola among teams advancing
"We just respected their basketball team and we just played a basketball game," U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "There's no political aspect in my mind in the ballgame."
Kevin Love scored 13 points and Kevin Durant 12 for the Americans (4-0), who will meet the fourth-place team from Group A in the round of 16.
After playing his starters for most of the second half of a 70-68 victory over Brazil on Monday, Krzyzewski went to the bench early in this one, with the Americans shooting 58% and scoring 23 points off turnovers in the easy victory.
Hamed Haddadi scored 19 points for Iran (1-3) and Arsalan Kazemi had 14.
"I'm very happy, I played against the best team in the world," Kamrany said.
The tensions between the nations' governments provided the backdrop off the court, with a group of fans sitting near midcourt before the game holding U.S. and Iran flags and a sign reading "PEACE" in between.
The only sparring on the floor was a playful bump between Haddadi and U.S. forward Rudy Gay, teammates with the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies.
"We should leave politics to the politicians," U.S. center Tyson Chandler said. "We're here to play basketball."
The countries have feuded for decades and their relations have deteriorated in recent years, with the United States supporting sanctions against Iran for continuing with programs it believes could be used to create nuclear weapons.
The U.S. team tried to keep the focus on the floor, with Krzyzewski saying he had played in Iran in the 1970s with an Armed Forces team and had great respect for the country.
Krzyzewski was answering a question about turnovers in the postgame news conference when he noticed Iran coach Veselin Matic to his left nodding in agreement.
"That's the first level of diplomacy. That's one thing we're in agreement with," Krzyzewski joked.
There's no rivalry on the basketball court, where the nations had never met in Olympic or world championship play. The Iranian national team even came to Utah two years ago at the invitation of the NBA to play in a summer league as preparation for the 2008 Olympics.
"That's one of the beautiful things about sports," U.S. center Lamar Odom said. "If you think about the history of sports, you take people from different cultures, from different beliefs and bring them together. Sports is the one thing that can kind of bring people together and have a great atmosphere. It was great playing a game like this."
And in a nod to the Iranian supporters in Istanbul — which included minister of sports Ali Saeedlou earlier in the tournament — dancers were ordered to cover up for their performances during the game. Islam prohibits women from exposing their skin in public, and Iranian officials had turned their backs when the dancers performed in earlier games.
The dancers wore long pants Wednesday.
Iranian fans, many waving flags and chanting, had plenty to cheer early. Haddadi won the opening tip, Durant fired a pass behind Andre Iguodala and out of bounds on the Americans' first possession, and the U.S. lead was only six after one quarter.
But the Americans quickly pushed it into double digits in the second and gradually extended it to 14 at halftime. They opened the second half with another burst to push it past 20 and turn Group B's second game of the night into a dull affair.
Krzyzewski said he thought the Americans were tired, more mentally than physically, against Brazil, in what was their third game in three days and sixth in 10 — in three different countries. They were fresher after a day off, with Krzyzewski saying they looked better in the second half.
"As the game moved along we got better in the game," he said.
Following Thursday's game against winless Tunisia, the Americans will have three days off before playing Monday against an opponent still to be determined. But a difficult quarterfinal could follow, with Spain looming as a possible opponent after two surprising losses have dropped the defending world champions into third place in their group.
The Americans want to have their reserves playing well by then, and all 12 players scored Wednesday. Derrick Rose had 11 points and Danny Granger added 10.

Roddick upset at U.S. Open; Venus Williams, Clijsters win

 Defending champion Kim Clijsters and two-time winner Venus Williams advanced to the third round at the U.S. Open in straight-sets wins Wednesday that were overshadowed by a concussed Victoria Azarenka's collapse on the court.
While that was the biggest news of the morning, there were surprises on the scoreboard throughout Day 3, including more than 12 hours later, when 2003 U.S. Open champion Andy Roddick bowed out in the second round with a 3-6, 7-5, 6-3, 7-6 (4) loss to 44th-ranked Janko Tipsarevic.
Roddick had difficulty dealing with Tipsarevic's serve and go-for-broke groundstrokes, but also got into a lengthy argument with a lineswoman over a foot-fault call in the third set. Roddick asked the official which foot crossed the baseline, and she told him it was his right foot.
"That's impossible," Roddick snapped.
He continued berating the official between points, making a joke about "1-800-Rent-a-Ref."
A TV replay showed Roddick did commit a foot fault — but with his left foot.

No. 9 Roddick was joined on the sideline by two other seeded men, thanks to 18-year-old American qualifier Ryan Harrison's 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-4 victory over No. 15 Ivan Ljubicic, and Michael Llodra's 7-6 (3), 6-4, 6-4 upset of Wimbledon runner-up and No. 7-seeded Tomas Berdych.
Winners included No. 4-seeded Andy Murray, the 2008 runner-up; No. 12 Mikhail Youzhny; No. 14 Nicolas Almagro; No. 18 John Isner, best known for his all-sorts-of-records-smashing Wimbledon marathon victory that ended 70-68 in the fifth set; and No. 20 Sam Querrey, who beat NCAA singles champion Bradley Klahn 6-3, 4-6, 7-5, 6-4.
At night, Clijsters reached the third round by beating 201st-ranked qualifier Sally Peers of Australia 6-2, 6-1.
Venus Williams, who counts the 2000 and 2001 U.S. Opens among her seven Grand Slam singles titles, struggled for a bit against 193rd-ranked qualifier Rebecca Marino of Canada before pulling out a 7-6 (3), 6-3 win.
Marino actually led 3-1 in the tiebreaker, before Williams took the next six straight points to steal the opening set.
"She started returning better, serving bombs. I think she definitely upped her level," Marino said. "I did notice at one point that she started to grunt pretty loudly. And it's like, 'Whoa, she's getting serious here.'"
Harrison was the first U.S. male teen to beat a top-20 opponent at any Grand Slam tournament since a 19-year-old Roddick knocked off No. 11 Alex Corretja at the 2001 U.S. Open.
You don't have to go nearly as far back to find a female teen from the United States who pulled off that sort of upset, of course: Melanie Oudin was 17 a year ago when she reached the U.S. Open quarterfinals by beating two top-20 players.
Oudin's 2010 stay in New York was shorter: She lost in the second round Wednesday to No. 29 Alona Bondarenko 6-2, 7-5.
"Definitely disappointing," Oudin said. "I still have, hopefully, like, 10 more years in my career, hopefully 10 more U.S. Opens ahead of me. So I'll definitely be looking forward again to next year."
Among the seeded women bowing out was No. 21 Zheng Jie, overwhelmed 6-3, 6-0 by 2008 French Open champion Ana Ivanovic, who used to be ranked No. 1 but is now ranked No. 40.
No. 13 Marion Bartoli, No. 28 Alisa Kleybanova and No. 32 Tsvetana Pironkova also lost. Pironkova was ranked only 82nd in June, when she shocked Venus Williams in the quarterfinals, and they could have met in the third round in New York. But Pironkova bowed out in straight sets against qualifier Mandy Minella of Luxembourg, who gets to face Williams instead.
Azarenka is an up-and-comer on tour, part of a group of young players seen as potential future Grand Slam champions. She beat Maria Sharapova in the final of a hard-court tournament in California last month and pushed Serena Williams to three sets before losing in the Australian Open quarterfinals in January.
Against Williams in the fourth round of the 2009 Australian Open, Azarenka stopped in the second set, dizzy and in tears, and blamed a virus.
Her frightening exit Wednesday caught everyone's attention. Top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki wrote on Twitter: "Did anyone watch Vikas match?? I really hope she is ok!"
The match was halted with Azarenka trailing Dulko 5-1.
"It was terrible. It's not nice to see someone feeling bad, not nice to win a match this way. I hope she feels OK now," said Dulko, who walked around the net to check on the prone Azarenka. "I was worried for her."