Padres shut out Cubs to keep playoff hopes alive

In addition to being manager of the San Diego Padres, Bud Black has a college degree in finance. So he knows a little something about math.

And the numbers he’ll see in Thursday morning’s newspaper won’t be encouraging.

Even though Chris Young and four relievers combined to beat the Chicago Cubs, 3-0, on Wednesday, the Padres still trail San Francisco in the National League West by two games because the Giants also won, beating Arizona, 3-1, behind an 11-strikeout performance by Tim Lincecum (16-10) and a three-run home run by Pat Burrell.

The Padres also remain 1 1/2 games behind Atlanta in the wild-card race after the Braves completed a three-game sweep of the Florida Marlins with a 5-1 win.


And time is running out on the Padres’ flickering postseason hopes since San Diego has only four games to play.

Black also knows enough about chemistry to believe his team can overcome the odds.

“There is an esprit de corps among certain teams,” Black said. “Our group is a group that has a lot of team chemistry. They just care about each other and care about playing.”

If they care about making the playoffs, they’re going to need a huge series against the Giants this weekend and an awful lot of help from the Philadelphia Phillies, who close out the Braves’ regular-season schedule.

To have a chance to win the West, the Padres must beat the Cubs on Thursday, hope the Giants lose to the Diamondbacks, and then win at least two of their three weekend games in San Francisco. To win the wild-card berth, they’ll have to do the same thing and hope the Phillies win two of three at Atlanta.

And if all that happens? Then the three teams would finish the season tied, forcing two one-game playoffs to determine who advances.

Complicated, yes. But it’s about the best the Padres and their optimistic manager can hope for.

In the American League, Tampa Bay was shut out for the second time in three games, falling to Kevin Millwood and Baltimore, 2-0, in front of a packed house in the Rays’ home finale. Management made sure the game would be a sellout, giving away 20,000 tickets.


But the New York Yankees failed to take advantage, losing, 8-4, to the Toronto Blue Jays in Manager Cito Gaston’s farewell to Toronto. New York has lost six of its last eight games and trails Tampa Bay in the East by half a game. That’s no small matter since the division winner will start the postseason at home against West champion Texas and the second-place team will advance to the playoffs as the wild-card team and open at Minnesota, the Central winner.