Giants' Season Comes Down to Final Game

Padres beat Giants 4-2, push NL West race to Sunday

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Getty Images
    SAN FRANCISCO - OCTOBER 02: Adrian Gonzalez #23 of the San Diego Padres slides to avoid the tag of Mike Fontenot #14 of the San Francisco Giants that was wide due to a throwing error by Pablo Sandoval at AT&T Park on October 2, 2010 in San Francisco, California. The missed tag allowed Miguel Tejada #10 to score to give the Padres a 3-0 lead in the thrid inning. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

    The huge party in San Francisco will have to wait until tonight.

    On Saturday, Heath Bell stopped a Giants rally in the ninth inning and the San Diego Padres beat San Francisco 4-2, leaving two NL playoff races in doubt heading into the final day of the season.

    So it comes down to one final regular-season game for the men in orange and black as they  go up against the Padres at AT&T Park to clinch the NL West Division title.

    They need a win in order to guarantee the team's first postseason appearance since 2003. If the Padres win, the Giants head to San Diego for a one-game tiebreaker. Or they could cross their fingers and hope Philly sweeps Atlanta, giving the Giants a shot at the NL Wild Card.

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    [BAY] Giants Ballpark Evolution
    Take a unique look back to the scene 10 years ago as the Giants celebrated the opening of their new ballpark at China Basin.

    The matchup could also end in a three-way tie between the Giants, Padres, and Braves.

    Baseball fans love statistics and this season every digit counts.

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    [BAY] Giants Equipment Heaven
    Take a look inside the Giants clubhouse where longtime equipment manager Mike Murphy gets the team in gear.

    Now back to Saturday's game: Pablo Sandoval hit an RBI single with one out in the ninth, but Bell got pinch-hitter Jose Guillen to ground into a game-ending double play with runners at the corners.

    Tim Stauffer gave San Diego another clutch start, and the Padres pulled within one game of the Giants in the NL West. The Padres began the day one game behind Atlanta for the wild card. The Braves hosted Philadelphia.

    Giants starter Barry Zito (9-14) gave up consecutive bases-loaded walks in the first and was booed off the field after a season-low three innings.

    San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy also made an early exit -- he was ejected after the sixth for arguing when Buster Posey was called out on strikes.

    The Padres came into this weekend series needing a three-game sweep to have any chance of making the playoffs. San Diego has won two in a row in a hostile environment where Saturday's sellout crowd of 42,653 waved orange rally towels.

    San Diego is 7-1 this year at AT&T Park.

    Ace Mat Latos (14-9) goes Sunday for San Diego against Jonathan Sanchez (12-9), who is 2-5 lifetime versus the Padres but also threw a no-hitter against them last year. In August, Sanchez guaranteed a three-game sweep of the Padres but San Francisco dropped two of three.

    Latos made critical comments last week about the Giants' new-look roster featuring castoffs such as Burrell, Guillen, and Cody Ross. He said San Diego kept its original team intact.

    This is the kind of Sunday where baseball and football compete for viewers. In a rare event, baseball may win.