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Belt's homer a bright spot for struggling offense

Special to MLB.com

SAN FRANCISCO -- Brandon Belt's first-inning home run into McCovey Cove snapped an 11 at-bat hitless streak for the veteran first baseman and provided a glimmer of hope for the Giants' struggling offense. It turned out to be one of the few offensive highlights for manager Bruce Bochy's ballclub in a 3-2 loss to the Minnesota Twins on Sunday afternoon.

Belt homered off Twins starter Jose Berrios, his team-leading 11th of the season but first since May 27. The ball sailed over the wall in right field and landed in the water for Belt's seventh career Splash Hit, tying him with former Giant Pablo Sandoval for the second-most in franchise history. Home run king Barry Bonds tops the list with 35.

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Brandon Belt's first-inning home run into McCovey Cove snapped an 11 at-bat hitless streak for the veteran first baseman and provided a glimmer of hope for the Giants' struggling offense. It turned out to be one of the few offensive highlights for manager Bruce Bochy's ballclub in a 3-2 loss to the Minnesota Twins on Sunday afternoon.

Belt homered off Twins starter Jose Berrios, his team-leading 11th of the season but first since May 27. The ball sailed over the wall in right field and landed in the water for Belt's seventh career Splash Hit, tying him with former Giant Pablo Sandoval for the second-most in franchise history. Home run king Barry Bonds tops the list with 35.

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"For probably the better part of a couple weeks, I've been striking the ball pretty well and hitting a lot of balls at people, just not getting a ton of hits," Belt said. "But I've been doing what I want to do up there and that's hit the ball hard. You just have to keep going and eventually, hopefully, those will fall in."

Hitless in his previous two games and mired in a 16-for-72 funk, Belt was one of only two San Francisco players to tally more than one hit in the Giants' second straight loss to the Twins. Rookie Austin Slater was the other, singling twice.

Buster Posey doubled, walked and drove in a run with a fielder's choice groundout, but the Giants' 5 and 6 hitters -- Brandon Crawford and Hunter Pence -- went a combined 0-for-8 with six strikeouts.

Video: MIN@SF: Berrios escapes bases-loaded jam in 3rd

"It's obvious they're not seeing the ball very well, either one," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "When you're in the heart of the order and we have a couple guys really struggling, that makes it tough to score runs. Those are the guys that you lean on. It's not going to happen until our guys that normally do what they are good at, they come around and drive in these runs. You still believe that they will. Right now it's a challenge for us."

That's why Belt's day was so encouraging. In addition to his home run off Berrios, he drew a one-out walk in the third inning when the Giants ultimately left the bases loaded. Belt also singled in the fifth before flying out to deep center field in the seventh.

"That would have tied the game," Bochy lamented later. "It's good to see him get on the board again with the home run. It takes three or four guys to really be clicking. That's when you start doing damage. Seems like we get a guy or two that has a decent game but the rally stops when you get one or two runs, and that just doesn't work."

Belt's big day is likely to earn him a day off. Bochy hinted after the game that he planned to sit some of his left-handed hitters for Sunday's series finale when Twins rookie left-hander Nik Turley makes his Major League debut.

"Every day I come in, I plan on going out there and playing a baseball game," Belt said. "If he decides that he's giving me the day off, so be it."

Michael Wagaman is a contributor to MLB.com based in the Bay Area.

San Francisco Giants, Brandon Belt