Belt becomes latest bases-loaded hero

Belt becomes latest bases-loaded hero

SAN FRANCISCO -- According to Brandon Belt, the Giants employ an unusual strategy in bases-loaded situations. That is, their hitters don't do anything unusual at all.

Remaining consistent, even when the opportunity arises to generate multiple runs with one swing, has helped the Giants thrive in these instances. The latest example occurred in Friday night's seventh inning, when Belt cleared the bases with a ringing double to right-center field. It fueled a four-run outburst that hastened the Giants' 5-4 triumph over the Philadelphia Phillies.

The Giants are batting a Major League-high .407 (24-for-59) with the bases loaded this season. Leading practitioners include Gregor Blanco (4-for-5) and Angel Pagan (3-for-7). Belt, who's 2-for-7 in such circumstances, believes he and his teammates thrive by not trying too hard.

"Honestly, I think for the most part we try to keep the same approach that we have any other time -- that's get a good pitch to hit and make them come to us," said Belt, who leads the team with a .305 batting average. "I think in certain situations, it's definitely good to shorten up and maybe to go to that two-strike approach a little early. Just get the ball in play. I think we've done a good job with that."

Asked if he relishes the type of confrontation he had with Phillies reliever Elvis Araujo in the crucial seventh inning, Belt replied, "It's something that you play for. As a player, you want to feel like you're helping the team win ballgames. At the same time, nobody feels like they have to get the job done. Because they know the guy behind them will be able to pick them up if they don't. So I think just taking that pressure off yourself definitely helps."

Said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, "It's a credit to good hitters, good hitters who can control their emotions."

That poise, with the bases loaded and otherwise, helps explain the Giants' recent success. They've won 31 of their last 40 games, marking their best 40-game stretch since the 1954 New York Giants went 33-7 from June 12-July 21.

"Wow. I didn't know that," Belt said. "That's pretty impressive. It's been a lot of fun. It's a lot of fun when you win games and I think it comes from the top all the way down. Nobody really feels like we're out of the game. We always feel like we have a shot at coming back."

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.