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Belt shining with glove despite offensive slump

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Brandon Belt has avoided the pitfall of allowing an offensive lapse to hamper his defense.

Belt has endured a 2-for-20 skid in his last five games, including an 0-for-4, four-strikeout performance Sunday in the Giants' 4-1 Interleague victory over Cleveland. The San Francisco first baseman has struck out in 11 of his last 15 at-bats.

"His bat looks like it's made by chasm," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said, referring to Belt's late swings.

However, Belt recorded a couple of deft assists with feeds to pitchers covering first base Sunday. One day earlier, he made several short-hop pickups of infielders' throws, besides alertly starting a 3-5-4 double play after pouncing on Zach McAllister's fourth-inning bunt.

According to fangraphs.com, Belt entered Sunday ranked 10th among Major League first basemen in revised zone rating (which measures the proportion of balls hit into a fielder's zone that were successfully converted into an out) and third in out-of-zone plays made.

Bochy acknowledged Belt's defense by leaving him in the lineup Sunday, due to Cleveland's preponderance of left-handed batters and switch-hitters who would swing left-handed against starter Ryan Vogelsong. Yan Gomes was the only right-handed batter in Cleveland's order.

"We need [Belt's] defense out there," Bochy said. "He has done a really good job with the glove."

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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