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Cubs Face Padres, Hope To Knock Them Out Of Playoff Races

(Sports Network) - With a showdown for a division title looming, the San Diego Padres play what they hope won't be their final home game of 2010 in tonight's finale of a four-game series with the Chicago Cubs.

The Padres enter this evening's play two games behind San Francisco for first place in the National League West with four remaining in the regular season, and will visit the Giants for three critical contests beginning Friday. San Diego is also right in the thick of the league's Wild Card race, trailing Atlanta by 1 1/2 games for the top spot there.

"It's going to be a dogfight for us," Padres third baseman Chase Headley said. "There's no give-up in this team. We're going to keep going out there and doing everything we can. Hopefully we can string some wins together."

San Diego was able to keep pace with both teams, each of whom won on Wednesday, by coming through with a 3-0 victory over the Cubs last night. Chris Young combined with four relievers on a four-hitter as the Padres put an end to an ill-timed three-game losing streak.

Young (2-0) threw the first five innings and yielded just three hits and a pair of walks while striking out six in the tall right-hander's third straight strong start since returning from a shoulder injury.

Headley gave Young all the support he would need with an RBI single in the second inning and finished 2-for-3 on the night, while David Eckstein delivered a run-scoring double later on for San Diego.

Chicago starter Randy Wells ended his 2010 season on a down note, taking the loss after being touched for all three runs in a seven-inning stint. The right-hander completed the year with an unwanted 8-14 record.

"Everything that I said I wanted to do coming in I didn't really do," said Wells in summing up his disappointing campaign. "I learned a lot. I continue to make mistakes and let situations hurt me. It's not the way to make a long career in this game."

Jon Garland draws the assignment for tonight's important test for San Diego and will be out to duplicate the line from his last encounter with Chicago. The former White Sox hurler gave up just four hits over seven shutout innings to down the Cubs at Wrigley Field back on August 17.

Garland hasn't pitched that well since that gem, however, having lost four of his last five decisions and posting a mediocre 5.00 earned run average in that six-start stretch. He's gone 0-3 at Petco Park over that time span.

The right-hander did put forth a solid effort in a no-decision at home against Cincinnati this past Saturday, allowing three runs on seven hits over six innings of work.

Garland, who's 7-5 with a respectable 3.19 ERA in 17 home starts for the season, owns a 4-4 record with a 4.11 ERA in 11 lifetime appearances (seven starts) versus the Cubs.

Chicago, which had an eight-game road winning streak snapped with last night's result, will go with Tom Gorzelanny tonight in the left-hander's final outing of 2010. He's struggled mightily down the stretch of this season, having compiled a 1-4 record with a lackluster 6.39 ERA over his past eight starts.

Pitching for the first time in three weeks, Gorzelanny was rocked for seven runs on seven hits and issued five walks in only 3 1/3 innings in a loss to St. Louis last Friday. He hadn't taken the mound since being struck by a line drive in his left hand during a September 1 start against Pittsburgh.

Gorzelanny has permitted four runs or more in five of his last eight games pitched, which includes a home loss to the Padres on August 16 in which he was tagged for five runs and nine hits over 6 1/3 innings. The defeat brought the 28-year-old to 1-3 with a 5.01 ERA in four career meetings with San Diego.

Wednesday's triumph was the Padres' 10th in its last 13 bouts with the Cubs. San Diego swept a four-game set from Chicago at Wrigley Field between August 16-19.