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Confident Belt sticking in Giants' lineup

Confident Belt sticking in Giants' lineup

Confident Belt sticking in Giants' lineup
DENVER -- In looking at the minutiae that gives the Giants an edge from game to game, manager Bruce Bochy is testing the statistic that the team Is undefeated in games when Brandon Belt starts in left field.

Belt, who has started 91 of the Giants' 143 games at first base, made his second start in left for Wednesday's series finale in Colorado. Several factors played into the decision, including a minor hand injury to Angel Pagan, Xavier Nady's recovery from a hamstring strain, Buster Posey's need for a day's relief from catching duties by taking a start at first, and -- more than anything -- Bochy's desire to keep Belt's bat in the lineup.

"It's good to see him swinging the bat the way he is," Bochy said. "He's really starting to come into his own and getting comfortable up there. The confidence has grown in him the second half, and he's shown what kind of player he can be."

Belt is hitting .274 with six homers on the season, but he is .351 (40-for-114) in his last 36 games entering Wednesday. The success has bred confidence, and Belt has used that confidence as a weapon when he steps to the plate, as evidenced by his first-pitch homer into the right-field seats on a 95-mph fastball in the sixth inning Tuesday on a day when he posted a career-best four RBIs.

"That's a big part of the game for me, being confident and being comfortable in the box," Belt said. "I've been like this for a while. I've been staying on top of it to make sure I can maintain it. Go out there and have good at-bats every time, and I think that keeps the confidence level up."

It was a solo home run, but the area where Belt may have improved the most is with runners in scoring position. He's hitting .250 in 108 at-bats with runners in scoring position this season, but over his last 28 at-bats with RISP, he is hitting .429.

"I'm not changing my approach any more," Belt said of his RISP at-bats. "Earlier in the year I would change my approach a lot more, maybe put a little more pressure on myself just to get those runs in. Now I'm just treating it like any other at-bat, because I feel comfortable that I can put the ball in play and score the run. It's working out for me."

Ultimately, taking the pressure off himself by focusing on what he needs to do for the team has made a big impact on his success at the plate.

"For every young guy, and for every player in general, you want to come up and help contribute as much as you can," Belt said. "When you do, you feel like you're more and more a part of the team. When you look at it from that angle, what you can do to help the team, you end up playing a lot better personally."

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