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SF@ATL: Belt opens up scoring with a solo shot

ATLANTA -- The Giants' slugging might still be an aberration. Consider the early stage of the season and the team's punchlessness in recent years.

But it's tempting to label the Giants' ability as legitimate. Consider Saturday night.

Facing a formidable starter, Atlanta right-hander Julio Teheran, the Giants received home runs from Brandon Belt, Buster Posey and Michael Morse and prevailed, 3-1, to secure their fourth consecutive victory and eighth in nine games.

With 39 homers in 30 games, the Giants are on pace to amass 211 long balls, which would be their highest total since they walloped a franchise-record 235 in 2001. That's quite a jump for the team that won a World Series in 2012 despite hitting a Major League-low 103 homers, then mustered 107 last year to finish next-to-last among National League clubs in that category.

Several factors have contributed to the Giants' regained thump, including Morse's arrival, Posey's apparent resurgence and Belt's offensive development, which has been disrupted by a slump. That trio has combined to hit 23 homers, nearly 60 percent of the team's total. Others, including Brandon Hicks, Brandon Crawford, Angel Pagan, Hector Sanchez and Pablo Sandoval -- if he ever escapes his offensive funk -- also have proven capable of going deep.

"I don't think we'll hit that many home runs," manager Bruce Bochy said, referring to the Giants' current pace. "But I said before the season started that this team has more power."

The Giants possess enough power to sustain them when they lack offensive continuity, which is currently the case for a team batting a limp .236 overall. In their last six games, for example, they've scored 22 runs, 12 of which have resulted from homers.

Moreover, homers have generated all of San Francisco's five runs in the first two games of this series. The Giants' last nine homers have been bases-empty belts, hiking their Major League-high total to 28.

"That's not necessarily how you want to do it, but it's worked the past two days," Crawford said.

Belt entered the game in a 1-for-21 skid that included 12 strikeouts. Undaunted, he yanked Teheran's 1-0 pitch over the right-center-field barrier for his eighth homer of the year to lead off the second inning. Belt extended the Giants' streak of consecutive games with a homer to 10, matching the club's longest since the final 10 games of the 2010 season. San Francisco's next-longest streak is 12, which ran from Sept. 22-Oct. 5, 2001.

Belt's first homer since April 23 provided encouragement.

"He's not quite consistent, but that first at-bat was a great swing," Bochy said. "He's really close to where he needs to be."

Though Posey entered the game with an admirable .359 batting average in 11 games at Turner Field, he had never homered here. That changed when he led off the fourth inning with his seventh homer overall and third in 24 at-bats.

"It's kind of cool," Posey said about homering in the ballpark he saw numerous times on television while growing up in Leesburg, Ga.

Morse also delivered a leadoff homer, scraping the stratosphere with a parabolic seventh-inning drive. It was Morse's fifth homer in his last 10 games, a stretch in which he has hit .394 (13-for-33) with 11 RBIs.

"I think they are pretty good hitters, and I made a mistake, and I've got to pay for it," said Teheran, who yielded three homers in 43 innings spanning his six previous starts. Aside from the long balls, Teheran surrendered only one hit, Posey's first-inning single.

"That was the three homers -- three mistakes that I made and I think they were the pitches I wanted to throw and where I wanted to throw, but ... I have to tip my hat to them."

San Francisco's power benefited Ryan Vogelsong (1-1), who recorded his second straight quality start. Vogelsong allowed one run and five hits in six innings while escaping multiple jams. He left the bases loaded in the second inning, collaborated with Posey on a strike 'em out, throw 'em out double play to strand a runner on third one inning later and survived Jason Heyward's one-out double in the fifth.

Vogelsong recorded his most critical out when he fanned Justin Upton in the third inning with runners at the corners, nobody out and a run having scored. Before Upton batted, pitching coach Dave Righetti visited Vogelsong on the mound with a message: Be aggressive.

"He told me to get after it," said Vogelsong, who also struck out Upton in the fifth inning with runners on first and second and two outs. "That was kind of what I needed to hear."

Much like Friday night, the bullpen neatly finished the game after Vogelsong departed. Jeremy Affeldt, Jean Machi and Sergio Romo held Atlanta hitless, with Crawford making a remarkable stop up the middle on Andrelton Simmons' grounder, coupled with an off-balance-yet-accurate throw, to end the game. On Friday, Crawford made a dazzling play by diving to snare Evan Gattis' sharp grounder to open the ninth.

"He has put on a show the last two nights," Bochy said.

The Giants began Saturday with a show from Tim Lincecum, who seized upon the baggy throwback uniforms he and his teammates wore to execute a gag. Stuffing a towel under his jersey to create a fake paunch and donning his non-prescription glasses, Lincecum brought the lineup card to the umpires as the Giants howled with laughter.

"That was my alter ego," Lincecum said.

Meanwhile, his slugging teammates seem to be gaining an identity.

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