The San Diego Padres beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 3-2 in 11 innings Thursday, closing out a successful home schedule and maintaining their hold on third place in the National League West.
With a victory in this weekend's season-ending three-game series at San Francisco, the Padres clinch at least a tie with the Giants for third place. If the Padres win two, they clinch third ahead of the Giants and Rockies.
Third place with a losing record wouldn't be much to brag about for big-budget perennial playoff contenders like the Red Sox or Cardinals, but given the Padres' mix of bad luck and bad injuries this season, it would be a satisfying finish.
In their 2013 Petco Park finale, the Padres beat the D'backs in the 11th on Alexi Amarista's walk-off single. That left the Pads with a 45-36 season record at home. "I think any team will tell you they feel better at home," manager Bud Black told reporters afterward. "It's good to see we did it on the field."
Now they have to take care of some business on the road, where their 30-48 record is one of the worst in baseball. The Padres are just 1-5 this year at San Francisco's AT&T Park, and 7-9 overall against the Giants, whose budget dwarfs the Padres' by about $70 million.
The Padres' pitching has performed well since the team dumped Opening Day starter Edinson Volquez in late August, calling up rookie right-hander Burch Smith (2-1), who starts Friday against the Giants' Ryan Vogelsong.
Lately, even in losing games, the Padres' young starters have pitched extremely well, especially Smith, Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross. Cashner, who made his final 2013 start last weekend, has been one of the NL's top pitchers since the All-Star break, going 10-9 with a 3.09 earned run average.
Left-hander Eric Stults will go for his team-best 11th win Saturday.
The Padres drew 2,166,691 fans this year, their best total since 2008.