Before they play the series that will make or break their playoff hopes, the San Diego Padres must play one more game against a non-contender.
The Padres seek to salvage a four-game split with the visiting Chicago Cubs on Thursday.
San Diego (88-70) trails San Francisco for the NL West lead by two games with four to play. The Padres are also 1 1/2 contests behind Atlanta in the wild-card race.
They’re in position to control their postseason destiny with a season-ending three-game set against the Giants on the road this weekend.
San Francisco hosts last-place Arizona on Thursday, while the Braves are idle before concluding their regular season with three games against East champion Philadelphia.
The Padres ended an untimely three-game slide by beating Chicago 3-0 on Wednesday.
“We’ve got our work cut out for us,” said Chris Young, who threw five innings to earn the win. “With Atlanta and San Francisco winning (Wednesday), we’ve got to win (Thursday) and we’ve got to go to San Francisco and make it happen there.
“Anything’s possible with this team. We’ve got a great bunch of guys. We’ve got a bunch of guys that never quit. We’re going to play it out and see what happens, and I believe in this group.”
Starter Jon Garland(notes) (14-12, 3.58 ERA) will try to approximate San Diego’s pitching from Wednesday, when Young combined with four relievers on a four-hitter. That may be a tall order, as Garland is 0-3 with a 5.73 ERA in his last four home starts.
Garland showed some improvement Saturday, allowing three runs in six innings but not getting a decision in a 4-3 home win over Cincinnati.
He was superb in a 1-0 win over the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Aug. 17, allowing four hits in seven innings. He hadn’t faced the Cubs since a win as a member of the Chicago White Sox in 2006.
Garland also hasn’t won 15 games of the season since 2006, when he matched his career high by winning 18 for the White Sox.
The Cubs (72-86) will give the ball to Tom Gorzelanny(notes) (7-9, 4.28) for his final start of the season. The left-hander is 1-4 with a 6.39 ERA in his last eight starts, and 0-2 with a 10.64 ERA in his last three outings.
Gorzelanny had a rough time against St. Louis on Friday, getting pulled with one out in the fourth after surrendering seven runs and seven hits with five walks. He got charged with a 7-1 loss.
“I got into the game and wasn’t in a groove and couldn’t find it and was trying to do too much and paid badly,” Gorzelanny told the Cubs’ official website. “It was one of those things that happens.”
Gorzelanny lost in his only meeting of the season with San Diego on Aug. 16 at Wrigley, allowing five runs, nine hits and three walks in 6 1-3 innings of a 9-5 defeat.
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