SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Brandon Belt thinks the San Francisco Giants poor start is over. Putting up offensive numbers and getting on a winning streak can do wonders for self-assurance.
Belt homered again and the Giants posted their first three-game winning streak of the season, beating the Cincinnati Reds 8-3 on Sunday.
San Francisco has climbed out of the NL West basement, although its 15-24 record is still nine games back of Colorado for the division lead.
“We knew we were a better team than that,” Belt said. “Now with some of our guys back in the lineup I think everybody feels a little more confident taking the field each day.”
Belt hit his third home run in four games. Joe Panik and Eduardo Nunez each drove in two runs and Buster Posey had two hits for the Giants.
“It’s been a while since we’ve had a cushion like that,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “It was nice to get an early lead, add on and add on again. It allows you to work the pitching a little different and give some guys a needed day off.”
Scooter Gennett drove in two runs for the Reds, who lost their third straight.
Jeff Samardzija (1-5) snapped a personal six-game losing streak dating to last season. He gave up three runs in 6 2/3 innings, striking out eight and walking none.
“When the guys swing it like that and play the defense that they played out there, it makes the game a whole lot of fun,” Samardzija said. “It’s one of those days you can actually enjoy.”
Reds starter Tim Adleman (2-2) gave up four runs and was taken out after the first inning because of a neck strain.
“It came to light while the damage was being done,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “He was able to finish the inning, but it was unrealistic for him to go back out.”
Barrett Astin replaced Adleman and gave up three runs in the second.
Panik hit an RBI double, Posey singled home a run and Nunez added a two-run single in the first.
Crawford drove in two runs and Panik drove in another in the second inning. Belt homered in the sixth.
Samardzija breezed through four innings before giving up Gennett’s two-run single in the fifth. He avoided further damage until Jose Peraza tripled and scored on pinch hitter Tucker Barnhart’s sacrifice fly in the seventh.
Billy Hamilton and Joey Votto each had two hits for the Reds.
A LITTLE MOTIVATION
The Giants were outscored 31-5 in being swept by the Reds at Cincinnati last week. That proved to be inspirational.
“We got pummeled pretty good, to the point where that’s embarrassing,” Bochy said. “We come here, they win the first ballgame so they’ve won four in a row now and had a lot of success against us. To bounce back and win three games in a row and pitch the way we did and really execute and win the way we did today … it was a good bounce back.”
Said Samardzija: “Everybody takes losses here pretty personally. You don’t want it to be that ugly, but you find a way to protect your team and get through those games healthy and be ready to go the next day.”
Reds: INF Zack Cozart was held out of Sunday’s game with a wrist problem as a precaution.
Giants: OF Hunter Pence could be headed for the DL after an MRI revealed a minor hamstring strain on his left side. “It looks like it’s going to be a few days. He’s available to pinch hit,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “We just have to make the call whether we’re going to be able to afford to use him strictly off the bench or get a healthy body up here to help out in the outfield.” … RHP Mark Melancon is scheduled for a bullpen session on Monday. He could return to action soon after.
Reds: Following a day off Monday, RHP Bronson Arroyo (3-2, 5.94) opens a three-game series at the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday.
Giants: RHP Matt Cain (2-1, 4.54) starts Monday night’s series opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He beat them in his last start, also at home, on April 24.
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