VISALIA, Calif. - The Visalia Rawhide jumped out to an eight-run lead after three innings and then held off the San Jose Giants en route to a 9-7 victory on Monday night at Municipal Stadium. In their home opening game, San Jose rapped out 15 hits, but could not overcome the sizable early deficit. The loss drops the Giants' overall record to 2-2 through the first four games of the season.
Former Hudson Hornet Brandon Belt (3-for-4, HR, 2 RBI, SB) hit San Jose's first home run of the season in the defeat while Wendell Fairley (3-for-5, 4 RBI) also contributed three hits and drove home four runs.
Giants starting pitcher Kyle Nicholson (0-1) suffered the loss on the mound after surrendering a career-high tying eight runs (all earned) on eight hits over two-plus innings. Nicholson walked one and struck out two.
With San Jose trailing by an 8-0 margin, Belt got the Giants on the scoreboard when he smacked a solo homer to deep left center field in the bottom of the fourth inning. The home run was Belt's first career hit as a professional.
San Jose added a second run in the fourth inning when Charlie Culberson doubled to the fence in left field with two outs and scored when the next batter, Fairley, singled to left.
The Giants continued to cut into the Visalia lead in the bottom of the sixth inning as Belt singled with one out before Culberson doubled to put runners on second and third. Fairley was up next and he singled into left field to score both runners and bring San Jose to within 8-4.
Visalia got one of the runs back in the top of the seventh as Brent Greer led off with a triple against reliever Ben Wilshire and scored on a two-out wild pitch.
The Giants though immediately answered with three runs of their own in the bottom of the inning. Francisco Peguero started the rally with a triple into the right center field gap before Johnny Monell drew a walk. Juan Perez then grounded out to first base plating Peguero to make it a 9-5 contest. Belt followed with an RBI single to score Monell and then after Culberson grounded out, Fairley lined a single into right field to bring home the third run of the frame as San Jose climbed to within 9-7.
In the bottom of the eighth, Ryan Lormand led off with an infield single before advancing to second on a passed ball. However, Peguero followed by grounding out and Monell lined into a double play back to the pitcher's mound to end the threat. In the ninth, Belt drew a one- out walk, but reliever T.J. Hose retired the next two batters to earn the save and preserve the Visalia win.
Peguero (2-for-5, 3B) and Culberson (2-for-5, 2 2B) also produced multi-hit games at the plate for the Giants. San Jose out-hit Visalia by a 15-12 margin.
The Rawhide jumped out to the early advantage with three runs in the second inning against Nicholson and then five more tallies in the third. Four consecutive singles to start the top of the second produced the first two runs of the contest. Two batters later, a fielder's choice groundout plated the third run.
In the third, the first five batters of the inning reached base safely to knock Nicholson out of the game. Greer started the rally with a double before a walk to Ryan Wheeler and an RBI single from Paul Goldschmidt. Marc Krauss followed with an RBI single of his own and then Alfredo Marte doubled to score the third run of the inning and make it 6-0. Eric Stolp was then summoned from the bullpen as Kyle Greene greeted him a sacrifice fly while a wild pitch scored the fifth and final run of the inning.
Stolp (3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO), Wilshire (2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 SO) and Scott Nestor (2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 SO) combined to allow just one run over seven innings out of the Giants bullpen.
Notes: Eight Giants starters recorded at least one hit with Perez (0- for-5, RBI) the only exception ... Visalia starting pitcher Josh Collmenter (1-0) was credited with the victory after working five innings with two runs and six hits allowed ... Collmenter walked one and struck out eight ... San Jose stole two more bases (Belt and Peguero) giving the club 11 through four games this season.
On Deck: The Giants and Rawhide continue their three-game series on Tuesday evening with first pitch at Municipal Stadium scheduled for 7:00 PM. Aaron King (0-0, 0.00 ERA) is slated to start on the mound for San Jose while Visalia is expected to counter with Wade Miley (0-1, 1.80 ERA). Tickets are available and can be purchased by calling (408) 297-1435 or by visiting www.sjgiants.com.