CINCINNATI (AP) — Getting back to basics is working for Brandon Belt and the San Francisco Giants.
Belt homered for the third time in three games, Nori Aoki drove in three runs and the San Francisco Giants beat the Cincinnati Reds 9-8 Sunday after nearly wasting a five-run lead.
“I’m seeing the ball well,” said Belt, who drove in seven runs as the Giants won three straight after losing the series opener. “I had a couple of games where I had some hiccups, but I’m getting back to what I do best — seeing the ball.”
Hunter Pence homered in his second game back from a broken forearm. The World Series champions won three straight games in Cincinnati for the first time since 2005 and at 20-18 moved two games over .500 for the first time since they were 3-1. The Giants had 16 hits, matching their season high, and outscored opponents 44-21 on a six-game trip.
“That’s what happens when you’ve got four or five guys swinging the bat well,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “This is a little bit more like who we are. We’re going to be more consistent than we were early in the season.”
San Francisco built a 6-1 lead but the Reds closed within a run in the third after their first six batters reached against Chris Heston. Marlon Byrd’s RBI single, Brandon Phillips’ bases-loaded hit-by-pitch and Jay Bruce’s run-scoring single made it 6-4.
Yusmiero Petit (1-0) relieved and gave up Billy Hamilton’s sacrifice fly, then retired pinch-hitter Devin Mesoraco and Zack Cozart on consecutive popouts.
Petit allowed one run and three hits in three innings, Sergio Romo struck out Todd Frazier with the potential tying run on third to end the eighth and Santiago Casilla struck out the side in the ninth on nine pitches for his ninth save in 11 chances.
San Francisco and Cincinnati matched each other with single runs in the fifth, seventh and eighth innings.
Anthony DeSclafani (2-4) gave up six runs, six hits and three walks in three innings. He needed 41 pitches to get through the Giants’ four-run second inning, which was interrupted by a 24-minute rain delay.
Belt finished had three hits, including an eighth-inning homer off Jumbo Diaz . Aoki hit a two-run single that capped a four-run single and drove in Brandon Crawford with a squeeze bun in the seventh.
Cincinnati starters allowed 21 runs in 11 innings during the last three games of the series, a 17.18 ERA that left manager Bryan Price searching for answers.
“There are a lot of balls in the air right now with the pitching staff,” he said. “If we’re going to be competitive, we have to get a lot our of our pitching staff. Who the 12 are going to be is up in the air.”
Giants: Bochy said center fielder Angel Pagan could have started, but Bochy chose to give him the day off. Pagan left Saturday’s game with back spasms.
Reds: LHP Manny Parra, on the disabled list since April 29 with a strained neck, developed elbow tenderness after pitching off a mound on Friday, manager Bryan Price said. Parra will need one or two bullpen session and a rehabilitation stint in the minors before his return.
Giants: San Francisco opens a three-day homestand on Tuesday against the Los Angeles Dodgers, then has a seven-game trip.
Reds: Cincinnati opens a two-game interleague series at Kansas City on Tuesday. RHP Johnny Cueto allowed five runs — none earned — in seven innings of a 7-1 Reds’ loss at Kansas City on June 14, 2009.
Cincinnati center fielder Billy Hamilton didn’t start in the leadoff slot for the first time since his first major league start on Sept. 18, 2013. He had made 171 consecutive starts at leadoff before hitting eighth Sunday.
Pence went 2 for 5 to improve to .426 (23 for 54) with six extra-base hits in his last 13 games against Cincinnati.