No matter how difficult the challenge, the San Diego Padres are doing all they can to reach the postseason.
The Padres look to remain in playoff contention with a second straight victory over the NL West-leading San Francisco Giants on Saturday at AT&T Park.
San Diego (89-71) trimmed San Francisco’s division lead to two games after a 6-4 win in Friday’s opener. The Padres, who need to sweep this series to force a one-game playoff with the Giants for the West title, also moved within a game of Atlanta in the wild-card standings.
“It’s right there in front of us,” manager Bud Black told the Padres’ official website. “This is what you play for, to be in this situation, to play meaningful games the last week of the season. We’re still breathing. We’ve still got a chance. It’s not over.”
The Giants (91-69) need one win to clinch their first division title and playoff berth since 2003, but that might not be easy. The Padres lead the season series 11-5 and are 6-1 at AT&T Park.
“This group is not going to give in,” said Giants left fielder Pat Burrell(notes), who is trying to reach the postseason for the fourth straight year with his third club in that span. “We’re going to fight. If you had asked anybody in spring training if we would be up two with two to go, you’d take that. I know it’s rough because we lost a game, but we’re in good position.”
“Our mindset is just to go out and do it all over again,” Gonzalez said. “We take absolutely no satisfaction with (Friday’s) win.”
The All-Star first baseman is a lifetime .300 hitter against scheduled Giants starter Barry Zito(notes) (9-13, 4.08 ERA), who is 0-5 with a 5.61 ERA in eight starts against the Padres since beating them Aug. 23, 2008.
The left-hander allowed three runs and walked a season-high seven over five innings of a 3-2 home loss in his only 2010 start against San Diego on May 11.
Zito takes the ball on six days’ rest, which might help him bounce back from a rough outing. He is 12-7 with a 2.92 ERA in 23 career starts while pitching on that much rest. Zito allowed four runs in 4 1-3 innings of a 10-9, 10-inning loss at Colorado last Saturday.
The Padres counter with Tim Stauffer(notes) (5-5, 1.89), who is 2-1 with a 2.55 ERA in four career starts versus San Francisco. The right-hander allowed three hits in six innings of a 1-0 home win over the Giants on Sept. 11.
Stauffer, who made 25 appearances out of the bullpen this season, is 2-2 with a 2.25 ERA in five starts since joining the rotation last month. He has allowed one run in each of his last two outings, which he has split. Stauffer lasted seven innings Monday but got saddled with a 1-0 home loss to the Chicago Cubs.
Ross is batting .438 in 12 games against the Padres this season.