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SF@SD: Surkamp earns his first career big league win

The Giants are 8 1/2 games back with 16 left to play, and while they would need something close to a miracle to catch the National League West-leading D-backs, manager Bruce Bochy feels like his team still has something to play for when it hosts the Padres for a three-game set starting Monday.

"We feel like that," he said. "We want to finish strong. I'm not going to lie, we're very disappointed with what's happened here. It's hard to figure out why. With the fan support we have here and what happened last year winning the World Series, to sputter the way we are, it is frustrating and disappointing. But we would like to finish strong. We owe it to everybody -- the fans, ourselves -- to get this thing back on track."

After scoring two total runs over three straight losses, the Giants offense finally got going Sunday, erupting for eight runs against the Dodgers.

"Hopefully these next few weeks, we'll get these bats alive," Bochy said. "I know we've been saying it for a while. [Saturday] if you would've told me we'd get shut out, I'd say, 'There's no way. It's not going to happen.'"

Eric Surkamp, the 24-year-old rookie left-hander who skipped Triple-A to join the Giants in late August, will make his third big league start, and his second against the Padres. He collected his first win last week while holding San Diego to three runs over five innings. Surkamp was 11-4 with 170 strikeouts to 45 walks and a 1.94 ERA in the Minors this season.

Aaron Harang will look to continue his best season since 2007, as he's looked particularly good over his last two starts (10 strikeouts in 14 innings, 1.93 ERA).

Second baseman Orlando Hudson figures to be in the lineup again Monday after getting Friday and Saturday off to "clear his mind," according to manager Bud Black. Hudson has been in quite the slump, with 32 hitless at-bats dating back to Aug. 30. His average has sunk from .260 to .237.

With Hudson's cold bat and a sore left shoulder bothering Will Venable, the Padres will look for more from hot-hitting outfielder Chris Denorfia, who is 9-for-16 since returning from the 15-day disabled list with a nagging right hamstring strain.

"I had been struggling a little bit before the injury, so I took the time I had and decided to make it constructive," Denorfia said. "I wanted to get back to [finding] the fundamentals of my swing again."

Giants: Zito back in bullpen
Barry Zito was activated from the 15-day disabled list Sunday after missing more than a month due to a reoccurring foot and ankle injury. He took fielding practice with the team prior to the series finale with the Dodgers, though he did not make an appearance in the Giants' 8-1 win.

Zito will not rejoin the rotation and instead will be used as a floater out of the bullpen. He's made two career relief appearances in his 12-year career. The 33-year-old lefty has two years remaining on the $126 million contract he signed with the Giants before the 2007 season.

• Closer Brian Wilson (right elbow inflammation) is scheduled to hurl another bullpen session off the mound before Monday's game. The team has yet to decide if he will see any hitters. Bochy has said the team could shut down Wilson for the rest of the season while the Giants remain a good ways back of the first-place D-backs, though he also admitted it would be good for Wilson to see some action heading into the offseason.

Padres: Protest withdrawn
The Padres retracted their protest that was filed after Saturday's 6-5 loss to the D-backs. After reliever Joe Thatcher walked Lyle Overbay to push in the winning run from third base, Miguel Montero, who was on second, cut his walk to third base short to join his team in celebration.

Black wanted all the runners to touch the next base and then informed the umpires that he was playing the game under protest. But under baseball rule 4.09 (b), "... the umpire shall not declare the game ended until the runner forced to advance from third base has touched home base and the batter-runner has touched first base."

"We're withdrawing the protest, based on talking with [general manager Jed Hoyer], the coaches and we talked to the umpires after the game," Black said. "Looking at the rulebook, it became apparent the protest would not be upheld."

Worth noting
• Chase Headly, on the DL since Aug. 7 with a fractured left pinkie, took swings for the first time Saturday. He could take batting practice soon before getting in a game-type setting. It remains unclear if he'll make it back on the field before the season ends Sept. 28.

• Padres rookie James Darnell recorded his first Major League home run Saturday against D-backs pitcher Wade Miley, the same pitcher whom Darnell recorded his first Triple-A hit off earlier this summer.

• The Giants entered Sunday second in the Majors with 96 quality starts this season, already passing last season's total of 95, and are 11 shy of matching a franchise record. Comments