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Belt tightens up offense with Fresno
Giants first baseman homers on perfect night at plate for Grizzlies
07/01/2014 2:22 AM ET
Brandon Belt has homered in three of his five Minor League rehab games. (Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

When Brandon Belt landed on the disabled list in the middle of May, the Giants targeted Independence Day as a possible return day.

Now, four days before Americans across the country set off fireworks, the World Series winner is making some noise of his own.

Belt went 3-for-3 with a solo homer, three RBIs and a walk and Triple-A Fresno took a no-hitter into the sixth inning in the Grizzlies' 4-3 win in 11 innings over the host Sacramento River Cats on Monday. His homer was his second round-tripper in as many days and his third in five rehab starts.

The 26-year-old went deep over the right-field fence with two outs in the first inning, knocked in a run with a single to right field in the third and added another RBI single to left in the fifth.

Belt was intentionally walked with two outs in the seventh before being taken out for a defensive replacement in the bottom of the inning.

Fresno starter Jose De Paula walked two batters over four hitless innings and Brett Bochy set the side down in order in the fifth. Nick Buss broke up the no-no bid with a bunt single back to the mound with one out in the sixth against Bochy, and Shane Peterson spoiled the shutout with a two-out RBI double to left.

De Paula threw 34 of 59 pitches for strikes in his first start since May 27. The left-hander's previous five appearances had all been in relief after he struggled with the jump from the Texas League, where he logged 74 2/3 innings over 14 starts last season.

The River Cats clawed back a run in the seventh and tied the game in the eighth, but the Grizzlies struck the decisive blow on Chris Dominguez's leadoff homer in the top of the 11th, his 10th dinger of the year.

Belt broke his left thumb May 9 when he was hit by a Paul Maholm fastball in the second inning of a game against the Dodgers.

The first baseman was initially expected to be sidelined for six weeks. A hand specialist recommended two pins be inserted in his thumb to help the healing process and Belt underwent surgery May 15. The pins were removed June 6 and he started taking ground balls again June 10, 11 days before he participated in his first post-surgery batting practice. Then he headed to Class A Advanced San Jose for the first two games of his rehab.

On Sunday, Giants manager Bruce Bochy told he would not commit to a return date. He had previously said a July 4 return was possible, although Belt was moved up to Fresno a couple days ahead of schedule at the end of last week.

Ashley Marshall is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @AshMarshallMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs. Comments