Brandon Belt, pictured on April 19,2018, returned from appendicitis and hit a home run on Sunday in a winning effort against the Los Angeles Dodgers. (Stan Olszewski/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Brandon Belt returns as the San Francisco Giants avoid sweep with 4-1 win over the Dodgers

The San Francisco Giants had just three hits on Sunday, but two cleared the fences, providing all the necessary offense for a 4-1 dispatching of the Los Angeles Dodgers to avoid a series sweep in Southern California.

A pair of two-run shots off 21-year-old rookie Caleb Ferguson — one by Nick Hundley in the first inning and one by Brandon Belt in the third — provided all four San Francisco runs and gave Chris Stratton the cushion he needed to take care of a Dodger lineup that had been on a home run spree in recent games.

Belt — returning earlier than expected from an emergency appendectomy the night of June 1 — went 1-for-3 in his return with two runs scored and two RBIs. He had hit .314 in the month of May before going down.

Though Matt Kemp and Kiké Hernandez hit homers in each of the first two games of the series for Los Angeles (37-33), the Dodgers never managed to clear the fences in the series finale, scoring only an unearned run on a first-inning throwing error by Hundley.

With Max Muncy on third base and Justin Turner at first, Hundley’s wild throw sailed into center field and let Muncy score, but Yasmani Grandal grounded out to end the threat, and Stratton would hardly break a sweat over the next five innings. Ferguson would single in the third for his first career hit and Grandal would single with one out in the fourth, but he would be erased when Yasiel Puig bounced into a double play.

The only other Dodger baserunner would come in the eighth inning. After Will Smith pitched a perfect seventh with two strikeouts, Hernandez singled off Mark Melancon to open the eighth, but Melancon would respond by striking out Logan Forsythe and getting Chris Taylor to fly out. Manager Bruce Bochy would then turn the ball to Tony Watson, who got pinch-hitter Kemp to ground out to end the inning.

Watson would also get the first out of the ninth, staying in for the lefty-on-lefty matchup and striking out Max Muncy. Hunter Strickland would get the final two outs for San Francisco (35-37), getting Turner to fly out to center and striking out Cody Bellinger to end the game.

The bullpen’s dominance made up for the offense’s struggles after the first three innings. The Giants did load the bases in the eighth, but Daniel Hudson got Mac Williamson to ground into a force out to end the frame.

The win sends the Giants home after a 4-6 road trip, one that started with two impressive wins over the Washington Nationals but sputtered from there. They’ll return home with an immediate chance to make up for the series loss to the Miami Marlins, hosting the Fish for a three-game set starting on Monday.

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