San Francisco Giants

Bochy stands behind slumping Belt as Giants welcome Padres

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants are 9-5 in their last 14 games despite their lineup going 17-for-107 over that time with runners in scoring position -- a .159 average. How? Part of the reason, at least, is that a team that did not hit 30 or more home runs in any month last season already has 30 in April, the second-highest total in the National League.

Brandon Hicks’ walk-off homer Sunday was the 30th. It’s the most the Giants have hit in a single month since they had 31 in September of 2011, according to their game notes -- and it hasn’t only been Michael Morse (although his six may comprise a good chunk of the total distance). Brandon Belt still leads the team with seven, Buster Posey has five in spite of his early struggles with the bat and Hicks now has three.

Adding to the moment for Hicks -- according to the Giants, when the Indians decided to walk Brandon Crawford ahead of him Sunday, setting up the home run, it was the first time in Hicks’ major-league career that the hitter ahead of him had been intentionally put on base. He also became the fourth Giant to hit a walk-off homer immediately following an intentional walk, joining Jack Clark (1978), Willie McCovey (1979) and Pedro Feliz (2003), the Giants said.

Another Brandon (Belt), meanwhile, remains in the lineup today despite going hitless in the Cleveland series and having struck out 11 times in his last 15 at-bats. Bochy had said he might give Belt a day off for a mental break, but that’s obviously not the case.

"You really have to watch the player," Bochy said of deciding how to handle a slumping hitter like Belt. "See how he’s handling it. It’s not easy, and I’m sure he’s frustrated and down a little at times. But again, he goes out there and plays great defense for us. So he’s not letting it affect this defense or his game, so that’s why I’m going to throw him back out there tonight.

"He’s our first baseman. He’s our best first baseman. He’s going to be out there for the most part."

Here’s the full Giants’ lineup against San Diego Padres right-hander Tyson Ross:

CF Pagan

RF Pence

1B Belt

C Posey

LF Morse

3B Sandoval

SS Crawford

2B Hicks

P Bumgarner

And the Padres’ lineup against Bumgarner:

SS Cabrera

CF Maybin

LF Denorfia

RF Nady

1B Medica

2B Amarista

C Rivera

3B Peterson

P Ross

* The Giants face left-handers in the final two games of this series, and Bochy said it’s very possible Hicks will start all three games at second base. Hicks has already claimed most of the starts at second this season, with tonight’s game giving him 16 in the Giants’ first 26 games.

Bochy also said he won’t necessarily have Buster Posey play first base in one of the next two days. Posey has been behind the plate for four consecutive games, but Bochy pointed out again that Posey had two days off in a row before that.

* Asked for his weekly update on the status of Marco Scutaro, Bochy basically said there is no update -- Scutaro is still in Arizona, still doing baseball activities, and there’s still no target date for a return.

* The Giants will see the Padres’ Ross for the second time in two weeks. Last time, the Bay Area native and former Cal standout held them scoreless for eight innings with nine strikeouts at Petco Park.

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