Led by Belt's bat, Giants complete second straight sweep

Led by Belt's bat, Giants complete second straight sweep


PITTSBURGH -- The San Francisco Giants' recent run of success hasn't surprised Brandon Belt.

Belt also wasn't surprised when he helped continue that success Sunday.

Trailing 2-0, Belt started San Francisco's comeback with an RBI single in a three-run seventh inning, then added a two-run homer in the eighth as the Giants beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-3 Sunday at PNC Park for their season-high sixth straight win.

"I think there's a confidence and expectation to win now," Belt said. "Whereas before, I don't think we had that. It actually might have been the opposite. Not sure what triggered it, but this is the way we feel we should've been playing the whole time. This is how our team should be playing."

Jordy Mercer's two-run homer in the third off Jeff Samardzija (4-9) put the Pirates ahead.

Trevor Williams took a two-hit shutout into the seventh, when Hunter Pence walked leading off and Buster Posey doubled. Belt and Brandon Crawford hit consecutive run-scoring singles off left-hander Tony Watson (4-2), and Kelby Tomlinson's sacrifice fly gave San Francisco a 3-2 lead.

Belt homered in the eighth off Edgar Santana, his 16th this season.

Pittsburgh lost second consecutive game while leading after five innings.

"It's all about playing a complete game," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "We weren't able to finish the last two games. We were in position to win them."

Samardzija won his second straight start, allowing two runs and six hits in six innings. John Jaso homered against Steven Okert in the eighth, and Sam Dyson pitched a perfect ninth for his second save this season.

"We're going out there and I don't think we're looking it as a whole right now," Samardzija said. "I think we're looking at it as a game-by-game moving forward. I just think we need to go out every day and set a tone with the way we start."

The pitching as a whole impressed Giants manager Bruce Bochy.

"What a great job they did this series," Bochy said. "Starters. Bullpen. Samardzija was really good. One mistake, a slider on the inside part of the plate there. He threw the ball well. He threw another great game. We deserved win for him."

On their longest winning streak since taking eight in a row from June 11-19 last year, the Giants have swept three-game series from Colorado and Pittsburgh after failing to sweep any series this season before that. San Francisco has won six straight at Pittsburgh for the first time since 1953.

Williams gave up two runs and three hits in six innings. He has five straight no decisions with four coming off of quality starts.

"The numbers, it is what is," Williams said. "At the end of the year they'll be where they're at. I feel like I've given the bullpen bad situations."


Pence made a diving, tumbling backhand catch in right-center to rob John Jaso of an extra-base hit with two outs in the third. That stranded Jose Osuna, who had tripled off the right-field wall.

"What was impressive about Pence's catch was I think he was a little upset on the first ball he didn't catch there, the (Osuna) hit," Bochy said. "Then makes that diving catch there and saves us. We were determined to make the next play."


Pittsburgh did not start CF Andrew McCutchen, 2B Josh Harrison and 3B David Freese. Freese pinch hit in the seventh inning and Harrison in the ninth.


Pirates: OF Starling Marte went 0 for 3 and reached on a throwing error Sunday in a rehab assignment with Class A Bradenton. Serving an 80-game drug suspension, Marte is eligible to return to the Pirates on July 18, barring postponements. Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said Marte will play left field when he returns.


Giants: RHP Matt Cain (3-7, 5.46) seeks his first win first win since May 15 when San Francisco starts a series at Detroit on Tuesday.

Pirates: RHP Ivan Nova (8-5, 3.08) starts a series opener at Philadelphia on Monday. He has won three of his last four starts.

Jeff Samardzija to miss start of season after MRI reveals strained pectoral muscle


Jeff Samardzija to miss start of season after MRI reveals strained pectoral muscle

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants nearly left Scottsdale unscathed. Instead they'll leave with an injured No. 3 starter, but the news on Jeff Samardzija late Thursday night was good news. 

Manager Bruce Bochy told reporters that Samardzija has a strained pectoral muscle that will sideline him for the start of the season. But given that Samardzija, who has had a rough spring, went for an MRI on his shoulder a week before the season opener, team officials have to be breathing a sigh of relief. 

"He'll go a week without throwing the ball and then crank it back up," Bochy told reporters, including Kerry Crowley of the San Jose Mercury News. "It should't take long to get him back on the mound so it's good news."

Samardzija was supposed to take the ball next Saturday at Dodger Stadium. Instead, the Giants will rely on two young pitchers and a non-roster invitee at the back end of their rotation. The injury ends a three-way race for the final two spots between Chris Stratton, Ty Blach and Derek Holland. The Giants could use all three in the rotation until Samardzija is healthy, or they could skip their No. 5 starter and move one of the pitchers into the bullpen. 

Because the Giants have two off days before their seventh game, Madison Bumgarner can line up to pitch three of the first nine games. The Giants have been considering that all spring, although they have yet to publicly announce a decision one way or the other. Bumgarner said early in camp that he would be up to the challenge, and given how sharp he was all spring, that might be the best way to tread water until Samardzija is cleared to return to the rotation.

No. 79? No. 53? Before they were stars, Giants wore random numbers


No. 79? No. 53? Before they were stars, Giants wore random numbers

SCOTTSDALE — A couple of veterans walked past a clubhouse TV earlier in camp and saw that the Giants and Padres were tied heading into the bottom of the 10th of an exhibition game. The Padres infielders were just standing around, and there was not yet a new pitcher on the mound. 

“It’s that time when No. 99 comes in to pitch,” one of the players joked as he headed home for the day.

A few seconds later, a big left-hander took the mound. He was, in fact, wearing No. 99, and in his inning on the mound he would face a No. 74 (Aramis Garcia) and No. 78 (Steven Duggar). This is the norm for spring training, when dozens of players — including teenagers and journeymen still hanging around the low minors — get into every game. That leads to action between numbers you would never see in a normal game. The Giants had 60 players in camp, plus 10 coaches and staff members with numbers. Throw in their 10 retired numbers and the unofficially retired ones (25, 55, etc.) and, well, there aren’t a whole lot of choices left. 

If Duggar makes the Opening Day roster, he’ll get an upgrade from his lineman’s number. Ditto for Garcia, who could be Buster Posey’s backup as soon as next season. Still, a taste of big league action doesn’t guarantee a normal number in camp, when young players regularly find themselves back at the end of the line. 

Ryder Jones wore 83 in camp last year and 63 in the big leagues. When he showed up this year, with 150 big league at-bats under his belt, he was told that he would have to wait until the end of the spring to upgrade. Players with more service time (think No. 2 Chase d’Arnaud or No. 19 Josh Rutledge) get priority, at least until all the cuts are made. Jones said he has a few numbers in mind for his next stint in the big leagues, but he won’t be picky. 

“Anything under 40 works,” he said, smiling. 

The steady climb toward single digits happens to just about everybody. Long before Brandon Crawford’s became @bcraw35, he wore 79 in his first camp. He moved up to 53 after that and Mike Murphy flipped that to 35 when Crawford became the big league shortstop. Hunter Pence doesn’t remember his first spring training number with the Astros, but he knows it was in the low eighties. Joe Panik wore 66 the first time he spent a spring at Scottsdale Stadium. “I was an offensive lineman,” he joked. Tyler Beede, now on the cusp of his big league debut, got promoted from 63 to 32 when he arrived last spring, only to swap to 38 this year because of some in-season shifting. When Pablo Sandoval arrived last summer, Steven Okert switched from 48 to 32.

Then there are those who have only known one jersey. Posey was a can’t-miss prospect when he arrived and doesn’t remember wearing anything other than 28. Brandon Belt was a top-25 prospect when he came to camp for the first time, and he’s been 9 since that day. Madison Bumgarner wore 40 in his first big league camp because he had already made his big league debut, but somewhere in the team archives, there are probably a few photos of a 19-year-old Bumgarner wearing something else. 

“The previous spring I came up to pitch a few times,” Bumgarner said. “I’m pretty sure I had a different number every time I came over and I’m pretty sure it was always in the eighties.”

There were seven Giants in the eighties this spring. Duggar was one of two top prospects — Chris Shaw inherited Crawford’s old 79 — to come close, and he didn’t mind one bit. He’s not thinking too far ahead, even though he could be a big leaguer in eight days. 

“I’ll take anything if I’m in the big leagues,” he said. “I’ll take No. 112 if that’s what they give me.”