It’s now or never for Padres

San Diego Padres third baseman Chase Headley holds his head as he hands at the dugout fence as he stands with teammates in the ninth inning during a loss to the Chicago Cubs in their MLB National League baseball game in San Diego, California September 30, 2010.  REUTERS/Mike Blake (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

August 19th seems like a decade ago.

That’s when the San Diego Padres, who had just won five straight, had a commanding six-game lead over NL West rivals the San Francisco Giants. The Friars were 26 games above .500 at that point and given the strength of their pitching, they seemed destined for a playoff spot.

It’s October 1st and now the Padres are clinging to desperation after losing three of four to the second-to-last-place Cubs. With just three games to play in the regular season, they’re three games back of the Giants in the West and two games back of the Braves in the Wildcard (who will take on the Phillies’ scrubs over the next three days). They’re just 5-5 in their last 10 games, while San Fran is 8-2.

Six days ago they were just a half game back of the Giants and with the lowly Cubs coming to down, they had an opportunity to potentially take the division lead back. But with their season on the line, the Padres only mustered five runs over a four-game stretch and the Cubs took three of four at Petco Park.

The Padres now have to sweep the Giants and hope to win a one-game playoff in San Diego on Monday. It’s hard enough to beat a team three times in a row and four times seems nearly impossible. The good news is that the Padres have swept the Giants twice this year, but those were different teams back then. All you need to know about that San Francisco team was that Bengie Molina was still the cleanup hitter.

There’s still hope for the Padres, but the time is now. Two of their top guns, Clayton Richard and Mat Latos, will take the hill in two of the three games, but the key is the offense. The Giants had the best team ERA in the major leagues last month and if the Cubs’ pitching could shut San Diego’s offense down, what do you think San Fran’s will do to them?

If the Padres are going to make the playoffs, they’ll have to erase a month and a half of poor play in four days. But for them, the only way to approach this situation is one game at a time, starting tonight in the “City by the Bay.”

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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