Baseball: In Seventh Straight Loss, Cal Just Can't Get By Stanford





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STANFORD-With every passing week, the prize at the end of the road for the Cal baseball team is altered into something less appealing. With every loss, the team runs out of motives.

And after suffering its second consecutive conference series sweep this weekend against No. 8 Stanford (32-13, 9-6 in the Pac-10), the Bears are running out of more than just objectives or goals-they're running out of time.

After dropping the first two games of the three-game set, Cal (26-26, 8-13) was dealt an 8-5 defeat by the Cardinal Sunday at Sunken Diamond to finalize the sweep and bring the Bears' current losing streak to seven games.

The team has lost six straight games in the Pac-10 and has not tasted victory since a win April 21 at Arizona State.

"It'd be tough to look at those seven games and forget that we had opportunities to win all of them," Cal coach David Esquer said. "It's not a case of a lack of opportunities-it's a lack of execution and performance. We just haven't been doing it."

The two teams exchanged blows throughout the contest and combined to hammer out six home runs, all solo shots, including Nick Medrano's first career long ball in the top of the third inning.

But Stanford proved to be mightier, and took the lead for good by scoring three runs in the bottom of the fifth to snap a 4-4 tie.

Sam Fuld spearheaded the fifth-inning rally with his solo home run to right field, and the Card tacked on two more runs to take a 7-4 lead.

With his 2-for-3 performance Sunday, Fuld completed a superb series in which he went 7-for-12 with two home runs and four RBIs.

"I've been in a good zone," he said. "The most important things are just to maintain a consistent stroke and to have confidence at the plate. Those two things have been what has been keeping me hot."

The Stanford bullpen then provided relief for winning pitcher John Hudgins (8-0), as Darin Naatjes and Ryan McCally combined to pitch three scoreless innings to close out the Bears.

Matt Brown (5-3) was handed the loss following one of his shakier outings of the season. The normally dependable righthander lacked control, walking four batters and hitting two while allowing seven runs on six hits in his four-plus innings on the mound.

"It was definitely unusual to see (Brown) not have his control today since he's been so strong for us in the past few weeks," Esquer said.

On Saturday, the Cardinal unleashed an even fiercer beating on the Cal pitching staff en route to its 13-6 win.

In an endless sixth inning, Stanford scored seven runs off Cal starter Trevor Hutchinson (7-5) to erase a 4-0 deficit.

Scott Dragicevich ignited the rally with a grand slam-the first of his career-and junior catcher Ryan Garko joined the offensive parade later in the inning with his three-run blast.

In the series' opener Friday, the Cardinal rode the arm of junior righthander Jeremy Guthrie, whose complete-game, 10-strikeout performance boosted Stanford to an 8-4 victory.

After allowing four runs in the first four innings, Guthrie settled down and held the Bears scoreless for the remainder of the contest, while giving up only six hits for the game.

Fuld and Scott Dragicevich finished the game with three hits each to pace the Card's offensive attack.

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