SACRAMENTO (AP) — Brandon Belt had two hits, including his sixth home run of the spring, to back Johnny Cueto’s final start before the regular season, and the San Francisco Giants beat the Sacramento River Cats 8-4 on Wednesday night.
Cueto (2-2) allowed three runs over six innings with four strikeouts. He picked off three baserunners and also hit a tie-breaking broken bat single in the second.
Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford each hit two-run homers for the Giants, who were making their first appearance at Raley Field since adding the River Cats as their Triple-A affiliate a year ago.
Belt hit a leadoff single and scored on Crawford’s homer in the second. His two-out home run off Sacramento starter Chris Stratton in the third glanced off the glove of center fielder Gorky Hernandez, who crashed into the wall trying to make a leaping catch.
The Giants went into the night third in the NL this spring with 38 home runs and padded that total with three against the River Cats.
“It’s nice to have that little extra pop when you need it,” Belt said. “At the same time, I think we’re really good at staying within ourselves and doing what we do best. We can hit those gaps and line drives with the best of them. I’ve rarely, if ever, got a home run when I was trying to hit one. It’s usually when you’re locked in doing what you do best.”
Posey hit a two-run homer in the fifth.
FIELD OF DREAMS
Having recently signed a four-year extension with the River Cats, the Giants were more than happy to make the 70-mile trek north to play at Raley Field. So were the 14,014 fans who packed into the seats and onto the grass beyond the outfield wall in right field.
San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy was actually making his second appearance at the stadium in the state capital after bringing the San Diego Padres there for an exhibition game before the start of the 2001 season.
“This is a beautiful park,” Bochy said. “The atmosphere was just terrific. Even Buster told me in the dugout, ‘This is nice. It’s nice to play in a stadium like this.’ Guys enjoyed it. It’s a good change for them.”
Giants: Cueto, who did not walk a batter for the second straight start, made a trio of nice pickoff moves to erase Sacramento’s first two baserunners.
He nailed leadoff hitter Gorky Hernandez in the first after third baseman Ehire Adrianza’s throwing error, then caught Grant Green leaning off the bag in the second. Cueto also got Darren Ford in a rundown between first and second in the fifth. It was officially ruled caught stealing, even though Cueto initiated it with a pickoff attempt.
“It’s always good when you have that arsenal in your favor when you can help yourself and pick somebody off first base,” Cueto said through an interpreter. “I just try to be perfect when I move to first.”
That was the good news. Ramiro Pena followed Cueto’s pickoff in the second with a two-out single before Hak-Ju Lee’s two-run homer down the right-field line. That was the fourth home run allowed this spring by Cueto, who entered the game with a 9.58 ERA.
Sacramento added another run off Cueto in the sixth with back-to-back singles and a sacrifice fly.
“He fields his position well, got a (sacrifice), got a base hit and had a great game,” Bochy said. “He got a lot accomplished with his pitches tonight. He’s ready to go.”
Giants: Adrianza had two hits, including an RBI double in the sixth that drove in Kelby Tomlinson. ... 2B Joe Panik, OF Gregor Blanco and 3B Matt Duffy were given the day off after playing in a night game Tuesday in Arizona. ... San Francisco served as the home team even though the game was at the River Cats’ stadium. ... Former Giants OF Jeffrey Leonard threw out the ceremonial first pitch.