Giants 8, Padres 3

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 1/2 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.