SAN DIEGO -- Monday promised to offer the Giants a new beginning. Instead, their starting rotation's shortcomings continued to mount during their 4-2 loss to the San Diego Padres.
Right-hander Tim Hudson returned from the disabled list after missing all of July with a strained shoulder and lasted three batters into the fifth inning, maintaining the lack of durability among San Francisco's starters. They've worked into the seventh inning in five of the team's last 16 games. Of those five exceptions, Jake Peavy has recorded three outings of at least six innings, while Chris Heston has sustained two such performances.
At this rate, the Giants' bullpen, which has excelled lately, won't make it to September.
"We're going to have to try to stay with [the starters] a little longer," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said after his club's six-game winning streak dissolved. "It's going to be important for the guys to give us some length."
Hudson's prospects of delivering a durable effort faltered in the first inning, as he threw 28 pitches -- including 16 balls. He issued a pair of walks before escaping a bases-loaded, two-out jam by forcing Derek Norris' sharp fielder's-choice grounder to end the inning.
Though Hudson blanked San Diego in the first, enduring the inning's challenges prematurely eroded his skills.
"I was nowhere near where I would have liked to have been in that first inning," he said. "It was a labor-intensive inning."
Hudson's below-average command returned in the third inning when he walked Alexi Amarista with one out. Matt Kemp followed by driving Hudson's first pitch over the center-field barrier for his 10th homer of the season.
Hudson was finished after yielding singles to Yangervis Solarte and Amarista and walking Kemp to open the fifth. That, Bochy believed, was an indirect result of Hudson's first-inning struggles.
"Those pitches probably caught up with him going into the fifth," Bochy said.
Hudson, the 40-year-old who's 5-8 with a 4.76 ERA, maintained belief that he can regain his sharpness with increased activity.
"Once I get [on] the mound more, my fastball command will definitely come," he said.
However, with the non-waiver Trade Deadline approaching, such outings will increase speculation that the Giants will pursue a capable starter who won't force the bullpen to work overtime. Nor will Bochy suddenly reinstate Ryan Vogelsong, who happened to pitch two scoreless innings for the second time in four games, to the rotation.
Asked whether Hudson's fitness to remain in the rotation already was being evaluated from start to start, Bochy gruffly replied, "I'm not going to answer that. This is our rotation right now and we're going to run with it."