LAKE ELSINORE, Calif. (Press release) - Brandon Belt hit a home run and the San Jose Giants took a shutout into the ninth inning before holding on to defeat the Lake Elsinore Storm by a 6-3 score on Saturday evening at The Diamond. In the final game of the first half, Kyle Nicholson, Oliver Odle and David Quinowski combined for eight scoreless innings on the mound as San Jose took two out of three in the series. With the victory, the Giants finish the first half with a 45-25 record - eight games ahead of the Modesto Nuts and Visalia Rawhide for the top spot in the North Division.
Belt (2-for-4, HR, RBI), Charlie Culberson (2-for-2, RBI) and Drew Biery (2-for-4, 2 RBI) each collected two hits to lead the San Jose offensive attack. Eight Giants starters recorded at least one hit in the contest. San Jose out-hit Lake Elsinore by an 11-7 margin.
Odle (8-2) earned his team-leading eighth victory of the season after tossing three scoreless innings of relief with only hit allowed, no walks and four strikeouts. Nicholson worked the first three innings without allowing a run, but had to leave the contest after he was struck in the right elbow by a line drive. Quinowski (2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 SO) worked scoreless seventh and eighth innings before Scott Nestor (1/3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 SO) needed only one pitch in the bottom of the ninth to record his second save of the year.
The Giants took an early 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning as Juan Perez started the game with a double to the fence in center field before coming home on Francisco Peguero's one-out single to right. Peguero then stole second and scored on Biery's two-out line drive single to left.
Belt extended the San Jose lead to 3-0 in the top of the third with a towering solo homer to deep right center field. The home run was Belt's ninth of the year - tied for the team lead.
The Giants added single runs in the fourth and fifth innings to move in front by a 5-0 margin. In the top of the fourth, Jose Flores singled with one out before stealing second. After James Simmons drew a walk and Perez bounced into a fielder's choice, Ehire Adrianza lined a two-out RBI single into left.
In the fifth, three consecutive one-out singles from Belt, Culberson and Biery produced San Jose's fifth run of the night.
The Giants scored their sixth and final run in the top of the seventh as Peguero led off by reaching on a throwing error committed by shortstop Drew Cumberland. Peguero eventually scored on Culberson's sacrifice fly to right.
Nicholson worked around a leadoff double in the bottom of the first and had retired seven consecutive hitters until allowing a one-out single to Bo Davis in the bottom of the third. Davis then stole second base, but Cumberland followed with a sharp line drive that glanced off of Nicholson's elbow and was caught by Adrianza at shortstop. Adrianza easily doubled off Davis at second to end the inning.
Odle relieved Nicholson to begin the bottom of the fourth and retired nine out of the 10 batters that he faced while Quinowski fanned four Lake Elsinore hitters during his two innings of work.
Edwin Quirarte (2/3 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 1 SO) entered the game to begin the bottom of the ninth and surrendered a leadoff double to Cole Figueroa before issuing a one-out walk to Cody Decker. With two outs, Quirarte walked Daniel Robertson to load the bases and then walked Robert Lara to force home a run. Blake Tekotte followed with a line drive double into the right field corner to plate Decker and Robertson and bring the Storm to within 6-3. Nestor was then summoned from the bullpen to face pinch-hitter Allan Dysktra, who represented the potential tying run. On the first pitch, Dysktra grounded out to second base ending the game.
Lake Elsinore starting pitcher Nick Schmidt (6-5) suffered the loss after yielding two runs (both earned) on three hits over two innings of work.
Notes: The Giants won eight out of nine games to end the first half ... San Jose posted a 5-1 record on the six-game road trip ... Belt extended his hitting streak to 10 games ... He finished the first half with a league-best .392 batting average ... Odle is tied for the league lead in wins ... Peguero stole his team-high 22nd and 23rd bases of the season.
On Deck: The Giants enjoy the next four days off for the All-Star break. Belt, Perez, Justin Fitzgerald, Eric Surkamp and Craig Westcott will all participate in the California-Carolina League All- Star Game on Tuesday evening in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. San Jose returns to action on Thursday with the opener of a four-game series against the Modesto Nuts at Municipal Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 7:00 PM. Eric Stolp (4-4, 4.25 ERA) is slated to start on the mound for the Giants while Modesto is expected to counter with Rob Scahill (3-4, 6.51 ERA). It's a KRTY Country Thursday at the ballpark and tickets can be purchased by calling (408) 297-1435 or by visiting www.sjgiants.com.