Brandon Belt had a big night Tuesday against the Nationals.
A few more inches, and it could have been a huge night.
Belt finished the night with a three-hit, three-RBI night, providing Madison Bumgarner with enough offense to pitch the Giants to a big win over the Washington Nationals.
But for Belt, it could have been so much more.
In the second inning, after Hunter Pence led off with a single, Belt sent a long drive to left center fielder that appeared to hit about one foot from the top of the wall for an RBI double.
When Bryce Harper’s throw went home, Belt tried to take third, but was easily thrown out by catcher Jesus Flores.
In the sixth, Belt came up with runners on first and second and one out when he sent a high, deep drive to right field that hit just inches from the top of the wall, scoring Pablo Sandoval from second.
But Belt spent to much time admiring his drive and less time running hard. That allowed Jayson Werth to play the ball off the wall and throw Belt out trying to take second base.
“Players have hit a lot of balls over their lives and usually you know which ones are going and which one’s aren’t,” Belt said. “It was one of those things where I decided not to go, and I don’t think I’ve ever done that before. I’m not going to do that again.”
Well, if it makes Brandon feel any better, Giants announcer Dave Flemming thought it was gone, too.
Stil, it was two near home runs. Two outs on the basepaths. But two RBIs.
Belt got another chance in the eighth with runners on first and second and one out. This time, he smacked a single to right, scoring Buster Posey to score just ahead of Werth’s throw from right. That was part of an four-run eighth.
From there, Bumgarner did the rest, finishing the complete game on 108 pitches.
He could have had a shutout.
In the seventh, Werth sent a drive into Triples Alley that Hunter Pence was able to get to, but was unable to catch. It went for a leadoff triple and led to the Nationals’ lone run.
It was the lone bump on the night for Pence, who was 3 for 4 with two runs scored at the plate.
Combined, it was a 6-for-8 night with three RBI and three runs by two players who Belt described as “awkward.”
But they are both two key guys the Giants need to deliver down the stretch.
They give the Giants lineup a dangerous bat up and down the lineup.
For far too long, the Giants lineup got pretty lean in the No. 6-7-8 spots. Now with Pablo Sandoval off the DL, Pence and Belt make up the Nos. 6 and 7 spots. And even Brandon Crawford has been swinging the bat better in the No. 8 spot.
After a very slow start with the Giants, Pence is 5 for 16 (.313) with a home run, four runs, an four RBI in his last four games.
Belt is 17 for 36 (.472) in the month of August, with multi-hit game in five of his past nine games. It’s pushed his season average all the way to .267.
Crawford is riding a seven-game hitting streak in which he’s hit 10 for 23 (.435).
WASHINGTON NATIONALS 9, GIANTS 4: BOX SCORE
Last week, Matt Cain wasn’t able to keep a good pitching streak going for the Giants.
Now, the Giants need Cain to stop the bleeding in Washington, D.C.
Cain takes the mound Thursday in the season finale against the Nationals after Washington beat the Giants 9-3 and 9-4.
It’s the first time since 2006 that two Giants starters gave up seven earned runs in consecutive starts.
On Sept. 21, 2006, Matt Morris gave up nine earned runs on nine hits in 4.1 innings during a 9-4 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers in Wisconsin.
The next day, Jonathan Sanchez was tagged for eight runs on eight hits in two-plus innings against the Brewers. The Giants lost that day 13-12, but Sanchez did not suffer the defeat, amazingly enough.
Last week, Cain followed no-run efforts from Tim Lincecum and Madison Bumgarner by giving up a run on the first pitch against the Reds.
Now Cainer needs to follow seven earned-run efforts by shutting down the Nats.
Cain faces Ross Detwiler at 4 p.m. The game will be carried on MLB Network.
Just when we thought Tim Lincecum had turned the corner on his ugly 2012 season, the Freak went and made a U-turn in our nation’s capital.
Lincecum was tagged for a career-high eight runs (seven earned) on nine hits in 3 1/3 innings in a hot, humid night in Washington. Lincecum threw 87 pitches, 48 for strikes.
By comparison, the four pitchers who relieved Lincecum gave up one run on four hits in 4 2/3 innings. George Kontos, Clay Hensley, Brad Penny and Javier Lopez threw a combined 71 pitches, 51 for strikes.
Now, Lincecum is 3-9 with a 6.08 ERA.
Lincecum and Bruce Bochy tried to blame Washington’s hot humid weather in the mid-90s for sapping Lincecum of his strength combined with a rapidly climbing pitch count and advantageous Nationals hitters.
It left many Giants fans wondering if Lincecum has returned to square run after encouraging outings against the A’s and Dodgers in his last two starts.
They are also wondering what are the Giants to do with their former two-time Cy Young winner.
The answer is simple: Nothing.
Bochy said Lincecum will make his next scheduled start Sunday in Pittsburgh before the All-Star break. It’s the right move because there aren’t a lot of better options right now than to hope Lincecum finds his groove again.
The good news for the Giants and Lincecum is the Pirates are 15th in the National League in hitting. The forecast for this weekend in Pittsburgh calls for a high of 100 on Friday, but then cooling to 87 by Sunday.
Then comes the All-Star break, which will allow the Giants to reset their rotation. If they do it right, they could help out Lincecum.
The best spot to start him is in the No. 3 spot in the rotation, which will give him a home start against the Astros on July 15, a game at the Phillies on July 21, then home games on July 27 vs. the Dodgers and Aug. 1 vs. the Mets.
Another option is the No. 5 spot. That would result in a start at the Braves (July 18) then home vs. the Padres (July 23) and Dodgers (July 29). But that would also align him for a start at Colorado on Aug. 3.
The No. 4 spot is the worst, starting with back-to-back hot-weather starts in Atlanta and Philadelphia.
But if by the end of July, there is not marked improvement, the Giants could consider Brad Penny as a rotation replacement. He’s looked solid so far in two relief outings.
Let’s just hope it doesn’t come to that.