Padres on cusp of elimination after loss to Cubs

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SAN DIEGO (AP)—Brad Snyder(notes) hit an RBI single off Heath Bell(notes) with one out in the ninth inning to lead the Chicago Cubs to a 1-0 win over San Diego on Thursday, pushing the Padres to the cusp of elimination from the playoff race.

The loss reduced San Francisco’s magic number for clinching the NL West to one and idle Atlanta’s magic number for clinching the NL wild card to two.

The Padres trail San Francisco by three games going into the final three-game series at San Francisco. It’s the first time the Padres have trailed by three games since April 17. The Padres are two games behind Atlanta, which closes with a home series against the NL East champion Philadelphia Phillies.

San Diego, which started the season with the second-lowest payroll in the majors, led the division for much of the summer until staggering down the stretch. The Padres have lost 22 of 34 games since Aug. 25, when they were 76-49 and had a 6 1/2 -game lead over the Giants in the NL West.

Aramis Ramirez(notes) started the Cubs’ ninth with a broken-bat single to right-center off Bell (6-1) and was replaced by pinch-runner Darwin Barney(notes). Xavier Nady(notes) laid down a sacrifice bunt and Barney scored on Snyder’s single to left.

San Diego had only three hits. It was the second time in the four-game series that San Diego lost 1-0. The Cubs took three of four.

Sean Marshall(notes) (7-5) got two outs in the eighth for the win. Carlos Marmol(notes) pitched a perfect ninth for his 37th save in 42 chances.

San Diego’s Jon Garland(notes) held San Diego to four hits in 6 1-3 scoreless innings, struck out eight and walked one. Chicago’s Tom Gorzelanny(notes) allowed three hits in six scoreless innings, walked four and struck out three.

Until the ninth, Chicago’s best scoring chance was in the sixth, when Blake DeWitt(notes) hit a leadoff double just inside the right-field line and took third on Marlon Byrd’s(notes) fly ball to center. Garland struck out Ramirez to end the threat.

San Diego’s David Eckstein(notes) reached third with two outs in the sixth but was stranded. He and Miguel Tejada(notes) drew consecutive walks. Adrian Gonzalez(notes) grounded into a double play that moved Eckstein to third before Ryan Ludwick(notes) flied out.

Notes: The game started after a 22-minute rain delay, the second of the season at Petco Park. The first was April 21 against the Giants, lasting 18 minutes. The Padres have had one rainout in Petco Park’s seven-year history, on April 4, 2006, against the Giants. There have been only 16 rainouts in San Diego history, and only two since 1990. … The crowd of 28,576 gave the Padres a final home attendance of 2,131,774. … The Cubs have surrendered three or fewer runs in 13 straight road games dating to Sept. 10, the longest streak by the franchise since 1920.

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