SAN JOSE, Calif. (Press release) - Francisco Peguero homered and collected three RBI's in his return from the disabled list to lead the San Jose Giants to a 7-5 victory over the Bakersfield Blaze on Sunday afternoon at Municipal Stadium. Peguero finished with three hits in the contest while starter Kyle Nicholson tossed six innings to earn the win as San Jose completed a sweep of the three-game series. With the victory, the Giants (40-24) maintain a five-game lead over the Modesto Nuts (34-28) in the North Division race. San Jose's magic number to clinch the first half title has been reduced to three.
Peguero (3-for-4, HR, 3 RBI, SB), who hadn't played since May 28 due to a sprained finger, led a nine-hit Giants offensive attack. Juan Perez (2-for-4) and Jose Flores (2-for-3) also produced multi-hit games at the plate while Brandon Belt (1-for-3, 2 RBI) drove home a pair of runs.
Nicholson (5-4) picked-up his fifth victory of the year after limiting the Blaze to three runs (all earned) on five hits during his stint on the mound. Nicholson, who at one point retired 10 consecutive Bakersfield hitters, walked one and struck out four.
The Giants took the lead for good with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth inning against Blaze starter Kennil Gomez. With the score tied 1-1, Peguero led off the frame and lined a home run to left field - his fourth round-tripper of the year. Belt followed by drawing a walk before coming home on Charlie Culberson's triple into the right center field gap.
Bakersfield cut the San Jose lead to 3-2 in the top of the fifth as Jose Felix walked with one out, stole second and then scored on Davis Stoneburner's two-out single up the middle. Stoneburner though was stranded at third base to end the inning as Nicholson retired Jared Bolden on a groundout to shortstop.
The Giants then sent eight hitters to the plate in the bottom of the fifth and scored four runs on four hits. Consecutive singles from Flores and Perez began the rally before Emmanuel Burriss reached on an error to load the bases. Peguero followed with a sharp ground ball single into left field to plate both Flores and Perez for a 5-2 lead. Belt then singled into right field to score another run while Culberson's double play groundout brought home the fourth and final run of the inning and put San Jose ahead by a 7-2 margin.
The Blaze pulled to within 7-3 in the top of the sixth as John Whittleman led off with a home run to right before Nicholson settled down to retire the next three hitters.
Brian Anderson (1/3 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 0 SO) relieved Nicholson to begin the top of the seventh and promptly allowed a pair of runs. Andres James led off with a double, stole third and scored on Felix's groundout to shortstop. Erik Morrison then lined a solo homer to left to make it 7-5. After Anderson walked Stoneburner to bring the potential tying run to the plate, David Quinowski (1 2/3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 SO) was summoned from the bullpen. Quinowski quickly struck out Bolden on three pitches before issuing a walk to Whittleman. Mike Bianucci was up next, but he struck out on a 2-2 pitch to end the inning.
Quinowski set down the Blaze 1-2-3 in the eighth before Jason Stoffel (1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 SO) worked around a one-out double in the top of the ninth. Stoffel induced back-to-back groundouts from Stoneburner and Bolden to end the game and record his 12th save of the year.
Gomez (2-4) suffered the loss for Bakersfield after surrendering seven runs (five earned) on nine hits over 4 2/3 innings.
The Giants initially took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning when singles from Perez and Peguero put runners on first and third with one out. After Peguero stole second, Perez came home when Belt grounded out.
Bakersfield loaded the bases with none out in the top of the second against Nicholson, but managed only one run when Taylor Vail bounced into a fielder's choice. After the three straight hits to begin the inning, Nicholson didn't allow another baserunner until Felix's one-out walk in the top of the fifth.
Notes: San Jose finishes with a 10-1 record this season against Bakersfield at Municipal Stadium ... The Giants are 15-4 overall versus the Blaze ... Culberson (1-for-4, 3B, RBI) finished the three-game series with 10 RBI's ... Burriss, in the final game of his rehab assignment with San Jose, was 0-for-4 with a run scored ... He is expected to join Triple-A Fresno on Monday ... The Giants have six games remaining in the first half ... Sunday was their final home game of the first half ... San Jose is 13-4 in their last 17 home games.
On Deck: The Giants begin a six-game road trip on Monday evening with the first of three straight contests against the High Desert Mavericks. First pitch at Stater Bros. Stadium is scheduled for 7:05 PM. Oliver Odle (6-2, 4.62 ERA) is slated to start on the mound for San Jose while High Desert is expected to counter with Jake Wild (5-2, 3.86 ERA). The game can be heard live on www.sjgiants.com.