Giants clinch another first-half title

Belt homers twice as San Jose locks up Cal North crown

Brandon Belt is hitting .394 with eight homers and 55 RBIs in 65 games. (Barry Colla)

By Robert Emrich / Special to | June 15, 2010 10:19 PM ET

New manager, same result for the San Jose Giants.

California League batting leader Brandon Belt slugged a pair of homers and knocked in a career-high six runs Tuesday as the Giants clinched another North Division first-half title with a 15-11 win over the High Desert Mavericks.

After second-place Modesto lost at Visalia, San Jose had only to beat the Mavericks to extend their league record with a sixth consecutive first-half crown.

Belt did his part, going 4-for-5 with an RBI single in the first inning, a two-run blast in the second and a three-run shot in the ninth. The 22-year-old first baseman leads the circuit with a .394 average and .509 on-base percentage.

"He's just an outstanding kid," said Giants manager Brian Harper. "He can hit, play defense and run the bases. He's just a good-looking young ballplayer."

Belt -- a fifth-round pick in last year's Draft -- has been a consistent source of offense all season, hitting .463 in April, .317 in May and .460 through 14 games this month.

San Jose captured its third championship in five years last summer under manager Andy Skeels, who was promoted to Double-A Richmond. Harper, a former Major Leaguer and the Giants' roving catching instructor the past two seasons, replaced him.

"You play the game for a lot of years and there's not too many chances to get into the playoffs, and they should enjoy it," Harper said. "When you look back on your career, you don't look back on the hits, you look back on your teammates. I'm just trying to pass on to the kids that being professional teammates is what's important."

The Giants began a 10-game winning streak on May 12. When it ended on May 20, they found themselves in a familiar perch atop the division.

"I think the turning point in the season was when we lost a real close game to High Desert on a questionable call," Harper said. "The next day, we thought, 'Good teams bounce back from tough situations.' And these guys have bounced back from every situation."

Charlie Culberson had three hits and an RBI for San Jose, whose current winning streak reached five games. A night after slugging a grand slam, Ehire Adrianza went 3-for-6 with three runs scored.

Kyle Woodruff (1-0) turned in a strong performance out of the bullpen for San Jose, striking out four and allowing two hits over 2 2/3 shutout innings. Starter Eric Stolp was reached for eight runs on eight hits over 4 1/3 frames.

The Rawhide slugged six longballs, getting two apiece from Denny Almonte and Dennis Raben, who finished with four RBIs.

Robert Emrich is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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