Belt Homers, Lifts Giants Over Dodgers 5-3
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Brandon Belt finally feels comfortable hitting in the majors, and the timing couldn’t be better for the San Francisco Giants.
Belt capped a solid first day back in the big leagues with a tiebreaking two-run double in the seventh inning and the Giants finally gave Madison Bumgarner some run support at home while beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-3 on Tuesday night.
“That was a big goal for me, to bring the confidence that I had down (in the minors) up to the plate up here,” said Belt, who also hit a leadoff homer in the second inning. “The first time I was up here I was definitely a little bit overwhelmed but since I’ve been up here I’m starting to relax a little bit more.”
Belt was San Francisco’s opening-day starter at first base but made two trips to the minors after struggling with his offense. He was called up from Triple-A Fresno earlier in the day to give slumping first baseman Aubrey Huff a rest but instead provided the Giants with a much-needed spark at the plate.
Belt went deep in his first at-bat, then was retired in his next two trips to the plate. But he lined a bases-loaded double down the left-field line off reliever Hong-Chih Kuo to put the Giants in front for good.
“It’s good to get a shot in the arm like he gave us tonight,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “That’s the type of hit we needed. The thing I liked about it was he was aggressive. That’s always a good sign for a young kid. Sometimes they’re a little tentative but he wasn’t.”
Andres Torres, Mike Fontenot and Pablo Sandoval, the first three batters in San Francisco’s lineup, had two hits apiece to help the NL West-leading Giants to their ninth win in 11 games.
Rafael Furcal singled in two runs for the Dodgers, who dropped their sixth consecutive game to San Francisco, the longest such streak against the Giants since 1969.
Bumgarner (5-9) struck out seven in eight innings, yielding three runs and four hits. The young left-hander retired his final 16 batters and issued no walks for the second straight start.
It’s the first time in 18 starts at AT&T Park that Bumgarner has received more than three runs of support.
“I think maybe the games when they didn’t score a lot helped me more because I’m able to just go out there and pitch,” Bumgarner said. “It was nice to get some tonight, though. It made it a lot easier.”
Brian Wilson pitched the ninth for his 29th save in 33 chances, helping the Giants increase their lead over Arizona to 4 1/2 games. Wilson is tied with Atlanta’s Craig Kimbrel for the major league lead in saves.
Matt Kemp singled with two out but Wilson got pinch-hitter Andre Ethier to fly out, closing a busy day for the defending World Series champs.
In addition to bringing up Belt, the Giants acquired second baseman Jeff Keppinger from the Houston Astros for a pair of minor league pitchers and placed infielder Miguel Tejada on the disabled list with a lower abdominal strain.
“Without being harsh, this group just isn’t getting it done,” Giants general manager Brian Sabean said. “We need to somehow extend the lineup any way we can, and we think this is an upgrade.”
Belt’s night was exactly what San Francisco needed.
He went deep against Rubby De La Rosa leading off the second, then delivered his clutch hit in the seventh after the Dodgers elected to intentionally walk Sandoval and Cody Ross. Los Angeles also botched a pickoff attempt earlier in the inning after Kuo (0-1) threw to first when pinch-runner Emmanuel Burriss broke for second. Burriss easily beat the throw to second, sliding in ahead of the tag by Furcal.
San Francisco led 2-0 on Belt’s home run and an RBI groundout by Bumgarner.
The Dodgers, who were shut out a night earlier by All-Star right-hander Ryan Vogelsong and a pair of relievers, answered with three runs in the third.
Tony Gwynn Jr. doubled in James Loney and Juan Rivera added a go-ahead two-run single. Rivera, though, was thrown out trying to scramble back to the bag after taking a wide turn at first.
San Francisco opened the fifth with three straight hits off De La Rosa. Sandoval, who has reached base in 27 consecutive games, singled in Torres with the tying run but later left the game with a tightness in his right quad.
De La Rosa, who was clocked at 100 mph in the first inning, allowed two earned runs and nine hits over five innings.
“That’s kind of what we’re going to see with him,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “He’ll have his stuff but then he has the one inning. He threw a lot of pitches for five innings but that’s part of growing up.”
NOTES: Belt’s only other home run in the major leagues came against the Dodgers on April 1. … Furcal’s single snapped an 0-for-19 streak. … Bochy said the Giants will skip LHP Barry Zito’s next turn in the rotation Friday. Zito’s next start will be against Philadelphia on June 27 or June 28. … Dodgers INF Marcus Thames cleared waivers and was officially released by the team. … Dodgers INF Casey Blake (cervical strain) fielded grounders during batting practice and the team is encouraged by his progress. Blake has been on the disabled list since July 3. … The crowd of 42,391 was a season-high at AT&T Park. The Giants have sold out every home game this year.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)