Home run barrage lifts Giants past Padres 8-3

537357.jpg

Home run barrage lifts Giants past Padres 8-3

Sept. 12, 2011BOX SCORE GIANTS VIDEOMLB PAGE MLB SCOREBOARD
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Giants outfielder Cody Ross wants his teammates to openly talk about making the playoffs, even if the defending World Series champions still have a lot of ground to make up.At least now San Francisco has an offense to back up Ross' confidence.Ross, Carlos Beltran and Pablo Sandoval homered in a rare show of power at AT&T Park, and the Giants beat the San Diego Padres 8-3 on Monday night.They still trail NL West-leading Arizona by 8 12 games but the outlook is a lot more encouraging than it was a few days ago.That's why Ross wants San Francisco thinking big."Why not?" said Ross, who also singled, doubled and scored three times. "We're not going to give in. We're the defending champs and we've got something to prove. We're going to play through and see what happens."Until recently, the Giants were only proving to be a big disappointment - at least offensively.But one day after scoring eight runs in a win over the Dodgers - the most runs by San Francisco in more than a month - the Giants matched it against the Padres.It's the first time the Giants, the majors' lowest-scoring team since the All-Star break, have done that in back-to-back games since the first two games of the 2010 World Series."It's good to see the guys loosen up and swing the bats like we're capable of," manager Bruce Bochy said. "We're trying to finish up strong. We're hanging by a thread, but it's not over."The setting was a lot different than a year ago at this time when these teams battled for the division title in a race that went down to the final day of the regular season.The Giants still harbor slim postseason hopes this year while the Padres are just finishing out the string.Aaron Harang (13-6), who was 4-0 in six previous starts against the Giants, took the loss after allowing all three home runs. The burly right-hander remains three wins shy of his career high."I felt like I couldn't get comfortable out there the first few innings," Harang said. "Sometimes when you are hitting your spots in the bullpen it's not necessarily a good thing when you get (in the game). I just couldn't get into a good rhythm and it felt like I was off mechanically."Eric Surkamp (2-0) pitched 5 2-3 innings for his second major league victory - both coming against San Diego. The left-hander, who beat the Padres on Sept. 6, allowed seven hits and walked one.That might be enough to keep the 24-year-old in the Giants' rotation. Barry Zito, who has two years remaining on the 126 million deal he signed before the 2007 season, came off the disabled list Sunday but will most likely work out of the bullpen unless one of the other starters gets hurt.Most of San Francisco's offense came from the big three of Beltran, Ross and Sandoval.Beltran went 2 for 4 and drove in two runs, Ross added a pair of RBIs and Sandoval capped the night with a towering, three-run homer in the seventh.It's the first time the Giants have hit three home runs in a game at their waterfront ballpark since Sept. 30, 2010."It's nice to get back-to-back games like this from the offense," Ross said. "It's been a lot looser in here the last five or six days. Everyone's not so uptight and tense and trying to hard. Maybe that is the key."Beltran provided some early offense when he snapped an 0-for-15 skid with a two-run shot off Harang in the first. The ball easily cleared the wall in right field, bounced on the cement landing and fell into McCovey Cove.It was Beltran's 18th home run of the season and third since being traded from the Mets to San Francisco on July 28.Ross homered leading off the third, then added an RBI single in the seventh. Sandoval put the game out of reach with his three-run drive off reliever Andrew Carpenter.Harang left after the fifth. He allowed six hits and struck out four.San Diego, which fell to 1-4 on its seven-game road trip, scored a run in the fourth with the help of Surkamp's throwing error, then added two more in the sixth on four consecutive two-out singles to chase the San Francisco rookie.Kyle Banks knocked in one run and Orlando Hudson singled in Chris Denorfia to cut the lead to 4-3.San Diego put two runners on in the eighth but failed to score.Sergio Romo, the fifth San Francisco pitcher, got Hudson to hit into an inning-ending double play, then retired the side in the ninth.NOTES: Giants closer Brian Wilson threw 19 pitches while facing hitters for the first time since going on the disabled list three weeks ago. Wilson will rest the next two days before the team decides what his next step will be. ... C Buster Posey (ankle) played catch before the game and will head to Arizona to start his next phase of rehab. ... OF Will Venable also played catch during batting practice to test his shoulder and could return to San Diego's lineup Tuesday. ... Padres manager Bud Black hinted that prized prospect Anthony Rizzo could get into the starting lineup in the next few days. ... Black said an ineffective slider is to blame for reliever Luke Gregerson's dip in strikeouts this year. Gregerson set a major league record for holds in 2010 and averaged 10.2 strikeouts over nine innings but that number has dipped to 5.6 this year. ... RHP Matt Cain, who lost to San Diego in his last outing despite giving up two runs in seven innings, pitches for San Francisco on Tuesday. Cain (11-10) has won only twice in his previous eight starts. ... LHP Cory Luebke (5-9), who has dropped his last three starts, goes for the Padres.

Evans: Giants want to give Parker, Williamson chance to play, but...

Evans: Giants want to give Parker, Williamson chance to play, but...

While the Giants aggressively pursue a new closer, they haven't been aggressive for a new left fielder.

Angel Pagan is a free agent and isn't likely to come back. That leaves talented, but unproven youngsters Mac Williams and Jarrett Parker.

And for GM Bobby Evans, who is always looking for ways to improve the roster, it appears he is content going into the 2017 with Williamson and Parker filling the void in left field.

"Our mindset has been to keep an open mind in any way we can improve the club offensively. But that said, I feel like we've got a starting lineup today that we don't have to adjust or improve upon. I'd always like to find ways to improve it. I think there are some big market options, but we've got two young guys that we want to get a good evaluation on, and you can't really do that until they get major league at-bats. That's Mac Williamson and Jarrett Parker and both of them are really in-waiting for an opportunity to get everyday playing time and show what they can do," Evans told ESPN's Buster Olney on Friday.

But Evans is keeping an open mind regarding acquiring a left fielder.

"That said, I also have to make sure that if we have an opportunity to improve or solidify our lineup in some way, I want to take advantage of it. But I can't lose sight of the benefit of developing our own guys and giving them a chance and not locking ourselves into keeping them from playing time in the next two to three years" Evans said.

Evans: Giants still in 'search mode' for closer, but 'it's progressing'

Evans: Giants still in 'search mode' for closer, but 'it's progressing'

As the Winter Meetings get set to begin in Washington, D.C. on Monday, the Giants still haven't crossed off the top item on their offseason wish list.

The closer role remains vacant.

Names like Mark Melancon and Greg Holland have been linked to the Giants over the last few weeks, but nothing has materialized.

On Friday, GM Bobby Evans provided an update while speaking with ESPN's Buster Olney.

"There's been a lot of signings and a number of trades. In many ways, more done prior to the winter meetings than in the last couple of years. We still are in process, relative to trade options, relative to free agent options, to be clear who's pitching the ninth inning for us. So we feel we have the makings of a good bullpen, we just need to be clear who's pitching the ninth. And we'd like to solidify that through the trade market or free agent market. It's progressing. We're a month into this process, so we have a lot more information. But ultimately, until we have a closer, we're still in the search mode.

There's a nice balance between both. It's just that, they both have costs. Relative to a trade, sometimes you're giving up, in some cases, one or more of your top prospects and other prospects below that. In the way of free agency, it's obviously an expenditure for a certain number of years that is elavated more on the supply and demand side. That said, there are some middle tier late inning options as well that may not be as demanding as some of the bigger names. Again, it's a balance of options trying to measure all three."