Belt's all-around game boosts Giants vs. Reds
First baseman slugs RBI triple, makes great throw home for out
SAN FRANCISCO -- Brandon Belt complemented his ability to produce runs with his skill at preventing them Monday to help the Giants outlast the Cincinnati Reds, 5-3.
Belt was integral to San Francisco's offense and essential to its defense as the reigning World Series champions sustained their faint postseason hopes by winning their fourth consecutive game. He accounted for the Giants' pair of third-inning runs, hitting an RBI triple before coming home on Marlon Byrd's double. He also hoisted an eighth-inning sacrifice fly that widened the Giants' lead to two runs, thus enabling them to cope more easily when the Reds put two runners aboard with nobody out in the ninth.
Belt truly distinguished himself with his expertise at first base. With the bases loaded and one out in the fifth inning, he deftly backhanded Jay Bruce's grounder and made a quick, accurate throw home for a forceout. Joey Votto coaxed a bases-loaded walk from Javier Lopez to force in a run, but that was all the scoring Cincinnati produced in that inning. Belt thus forestalled a more fruitful inning for the Reds.
"He surprised all of us by [throwing] home," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's on the run there and he put the throw right on the money."
Belt's anticipation made a significant difference. During a gathering on the pitcher's mound before Bruce batted, Belt informed catcher Buster Posey that he would throw to second base if he had to go to his right for a grounder. However, Belt advised Posey to be prepared for a throw if Bruce grounded one toward the line.
"It's hard to catch that ball on a backhand, then stop to make an accurate throw to second base," Belt explained. "On a backhand, I'm already facing home."
Posey's eyes danced as he recalled how the play developed ideally for the Giants.
"So when [Bruce] hit it, I was ready," Posey said. "Kind of crazy, huh?"
The only downer in Belt's evening occurred in the first inning, when he smacked a howling line drive to deep center field that Cincinnati's fleet Billy Hamilton caught on the dead run. Considering Posey was on first base and Matt Duffy was on second, Hamilton's grab kept the Giants from generating more than the two runs they recorded.
"Off the bat, I thought it was a double," Belt said. "He made a good play."
Belt eventually received his share of satisfaction.