Saturday, August 14, 2010

Zambrano winning pitcher as Cubs beat St. Louis 3-2


Carlos Zambrano probably couldn’t have picked a better time for his first win since his month-long team suspension.

Zambrano earned his first win since June 20, Aramis Ramirez and Derrek Lee homered and the reeling Cubs beat the Cardinals 3-2 in St. Louis Saturday.

Chicago won for just the third time in its last 17 games, evening the weekend series, while the NL Central-leading Cardinals’ edge over second-place Cincinnati dwindled to a half-game with their second loss in eight games.

Zambrano (4-6), starting for the second time since his suspension for a dugout outburst against the White Sox June 25, pitched 5 2-3 innings, allowing two runs on seven hits. He struck out three batters and walked two, beating longtime Cubs-killer Chris Carpenter, who lost to Chicago for the first time since Aug. 10, 2008.

The Cubs (49-68) took the lead for good in the second inning, when Ramirez homered in his first at-bat since missing three games with sore ribs and Koyie Hill doubled home Marlon Byrd, who had doubled, to go on top 2-1.

Lee doubled the lead with his second homer in as many games, a solo shot to right with two outs in the third.

The Cardinals got that run back in the sixth. Skip Schumaker singled with two outs, took second base on a Zambrano wild pitch and scored on pinch hitter Randy Winn’s single, evading Hill’s tag at home to make it 3-2.

St. Louis (65-50) appeared to be in good shape to begin the bottom of the ninth after Aaron Miles led off with an infield single and moved to second on Ramirez’s throwing error.

But Cubs closer Carlos Marmol got Brendan Ryan to pop up a bunt to Hill – leading to loud booing from the St. Louis faithful – then induced a foul popout from Felipe Lopez and struck out Allen Craig on three pitches, leaving the dangerous Albert Pujols stranded on deck, to end it.

The Cardinals had taken a one-run first-inning lead on Matt Holliday’s sacrifice fly to score Jon Jay, who had singled.

Ramirez went 2-for-4. Marmol posted his 20th save.

Jay and Pujols each had two hits for the Cardinals. Carpenter (13-4) yielded three runs on six hits, with three strikeouts.

St. Louis manager Tony La Russa missed his second straight game, serving out his suspension for his role in the Cardinals’ brawl with the Reds during an 8-4 win Tuesday, for which Carpenter and Yadier Molina were fined.

NOTES: The Cubs won a one-run game for the first time in nine tries. … Zambrano is 6-1 in 11 starts at St. Louis. … The Cubs’ second inning marked the first time Carpenter yielded four extra-base hits in one inning since Sept. 28, 2006 against San Diego. … Carpenter had won four straight decisions and falls to 10-4 all-time against the Cubs. … St. Louis had scored at least four runs in every game in August coming in. … With a win Sunday, the Cardinals can claim their fourth straight home series win over Chicago. The Cubs with a victory can win just their second Central series in their last 15 tries, but their second straight over St. Louis after taking two of three at home July 23-25. … The Cardinals currently lead Cincinnati by a half-game and fifth-place Chicago by 17 games. The Reds host the Marlins Saturday night and can tie for first place in the Central with a win. … The Cubs’ Ryan Dempster and St. Louis’ Kyle Lohse will pitch the rubber game Sunday afternoon.


Photo above: Carlos Zambrano pitches Saturday. (Bill Boyce/AP)

Video credit – FOX

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Gonzalez, Crisp, A's down Rangers, 6-2


Trying to stay in contention in the American League West race, the Oakland Athletics shut down the punchless Texas offense.

Gio Gonzalez pitched seven scoreless innings, Coco Crisp drove in three runs and the A's beat the Rangers 6-2 in Oakland, Calif., Saturday.

Division-leading Texas (64-46) retains an 8 1/2-game lead over second-place Oakland, but the Athletics (55-54) will have a chance to win the series Sunday afternoon.

Rangers starter Rich Harden again fell victim to a high pitch count, lasting just 2 1-3 innings -- long enough for Oakland to score all the runs it would need.

With the bases loaded in the first inning, Harden walked Kevin Kouzmanoff to force in Crisp before Mark Ellis' sacrifice fly to right scored Daric Barton.

One inning later, Crisp lifted a two-out homer to right for a 3-0 edge.

Crisp's sac fly in the fourth scored Cliff Pennington, who had tripled. In the sixth, Matt Watson doubled to right to score Rajai Davis. Crisp's second sac fly then scored pinch runner Gabe Gross ahead of Texas outfielder Nelson Cruz's strong throw to the plate.

The Rangers managed to plate two runs in the final two innings. Catcher Taylor Teagarden hit his second homer in as many days, hitting a pitch just beyond Crisp's reach and off his glove to center in the eighth.

David Murphy's two-out ninth-inning single plated Jorge Cantu for the final run.

Gonzalez (10-7) allowed four hits and no runs over seven innings, with two strikeouts and three walks.

Crisp and Davis each had two hits for the A's.

Harden (4-4) yielded three runs on two hits and five walks. He had two strikeouts against his former club.

Murphy went 2-for-4 to lead Texas offensively.

NOTES: Texas' three-game winning streak ended. ... Gonzalez has won 14 of his last 15 starts when the A's score three runs or more. ... Oakland's Trevor Cahill will work the series finale Sunday against the Rangers' Colby Lewis.


Photo above: Oakland's Gio Gonzalez pitches Saturday. (Chad Ziemendorf/San Francisco Chronicle)

Video credit -- FOX

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

ZSN College Football 2010 Preseason Top 25 Rankings

School (2009 Record)/Season opener (Sept. 4 unless otherwise noted)

1. Alabama (14-0)/San Jose State
2. Boise State (14-0)/Virginia Tech (Landover, Md.) (Sept. 6)
3. Ohio State (11-2)/Marshall (Sept. 2)
4. Texas (13-1)/Rice (Houston)
5. Texas Christian (12-1)/Oregon State (Arlington, Texas)
6. Florida (13-1)/Miami (Ohio)
7. Iowa (11-2)/Eastern Illinois
8. Virginia Tech (10-3)/Boise State (Landover, Md.) (Sept. 6)
9. Wisconsin (10-3)/at UNLV
10. Georgia Tech (11-3)/South Carolina State
11. Nebraska (10-4)/Western Kentucky
12. Oregon (10-3)/New Mexico
13. Cincinnati (12-1)/at Fresno State
14. Miami (Fla.) (9-4)/Florida A&M (Sept. 2)
15. Penn State (11-2)/Youngstown State
16. North Carolina (8-5)/LSU (Atlanta)
17. West Virginia (9-4)/Coastal Carolina
18. Pittsburgh (10-3)/at Utah (Sept. 2)
19. Stanford (8-5)/Sacramento State
20. Arkansas (8-5)/Tennessee Tech
21. Oregon State (8-5)/TCU (Arlington, Texas)
22. LSU (9-4)/North Carolina (Atlanta)
23. Texas Tech (9-4)/SMU (Sept. 5)
24. Oklahoma (8-5)/Utah State
25. Navy (10-4)/Maryland (Baltimore) (Sept. 6)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Cain, Renteria, Giants beat L.A. 2-0 to complete sweep


San Francisco pitcher Matt Cain has finally beaten the Dodgers, his team’s fiercest rival.

He wouldn’t have done it without a motivated Edgar Renteria, who helped Cain out in no small way with some much-needed offensive support.

Cain earned his first win against L.A. after eight losses and Renteria smacked a two-RBI sixth-inning triple as the Giants swept the Dodgers with a 2-0 win in San Francisco on Sunday.

The Giants’ (61-45) big right-hander pitched 7 2-3 innings, allowing four hits with seven strikeouts and one walk.

Renteria gave Cain (9-8) all the offense he would need in the sixth, breaking up a scoreless tie. With two out and Pat Burrell on second after his double, Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw intentionally walked Aaron Rowand to bring up Renteria, who tripled to the wall in left-center to score Burrell and Rowand and then pumped his fist after sliding into third.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles’ offensive woes continued. The Dodgers, whose losing streak stretched to five games, are averaging just over two runs a game since the All-Star break and were held to two runs or less for the sixth time in seven games.

The Dodgers (54-51) had multiple baserunners in the same inning just once, in the fourth inning. Recent acquisition Scott Podsednik reached on an infield single, stole second and advanced to third before James Loney walked with two out. Cain responded by inducing a fielder’s choice from Matt Kemp to end the inning.

Closer Brian Wilson notched his 31st save of the season, retiring Kemp on a flyout to a running Rowand in the right-center gap for the final out.

Kershaw (10-6), making his first start after serving a five-game suspension for hitting Rowand with a pitch July 20, allowed two runs on six hits over seven innings, with six strikeouts and four walks.

NOTES: The Giants are 21-6 since July 6. They’ve won five of six against the Dodgers and swept L.A. at home for the first time since a four-game series June 21-24, 2004. … San Francisco’s Javier Lopez and the Dodgers’ Octavio Dotel, teammates in the Pittsburgh bullpen on Saturday, made their debuts for their respective new clubs after trade-deadline deals one day ago. … Los Angeles’ Ryan Theriot, acquired from the Cubs on Saturday, made his first appearance as a Dodger, going 0-for-4 at second base. … L.A.’s Andre Ethier missed his second straight game after the birth of his child. … The Giants stay in second place in the NL West, 1.5 games behind first-place San Diego. The Dodgers are eight games out in fourth place. … San Francisco is off Monday, then travels to Colorado for a two-game set, with Jonathan Sanchez scheduled to pitch Tuesday night. The Dodgers head home to host the Padres in a four-game series. Hiroki Kuroda will throw Monday night.


Photo above: San Francisco's Matt Cain pitches Sunday. (Ben Margot/AP)

Video credit – ESPN