(Sports Network) - The National League West is on the line this afternoon when the San Diego Padres try to complete a three-game sweep of the San Francisco Giants and possibly force a one-game playoff to decide the division on Monday.
The Giants entered this weekend's series with the Padres at AT&T Park needing just one win to clinch the first playoff berth and division title since the 2003 season.
After Matt Cain was denied in Friday's series opener, Barry Zito had a chance to redeem himself with the fans and media on Saturday, but lasted just three innings and allowed four runs - three earned - to fall to 9-14 this season. Juan Uribe homered and Pablo Sandoval drove in a run in the 4-2 loss, San Francisco's second straight since a four-game win streak.
"We'll come here tomorrow and continue to fight," said San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy.
So now if the Giants lose today and the Atlanta Braves, who are tied with San Diego atop the wild card standings, defeat Philadelphia, San Francisco and San Diego will meet Monday in a one-game playoff for the division title at Petco Park. The loser would then visit the Braves on Tuesday to decide the final postseason spot in the National League.
However, a San Francisco loss coupled with a Braves loss would give San Diego the NL West crown by virtue of a 12-5 edge in the season series with the Giants entering Sunday's play. The Giants would then take the wild card.
San Diego, though, would play the Braves on Monday if both clubs lose.
Giants lefty Jonathan Sanchez will try to get it done when he takes the mound this afternoon. He's 12-9 with a 3.15 ERA over 33 games (32 starts) this season. Sanchez has won four of his last five decisions and is coming off Tuesday's 4-2 triumph over Arizona in which he held the D'Backs to a pair of runs in six innings.
Sanchez posted a no-decision at San Diego on Sept. 10, despite hurling five scoreless innings of one-run ball with four K's. He also walked seven batters and is 2-5 with a 2.69 ERA in 18 career games (11 starts) against the Padres.
Padres starter Tim Stauffer pitched 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball for the win on Saturday and Heath Bell allowed a run on three hits in the ninth to post his 47th save. Miguel Tejada had two hits and drove in a run, whileChase Headley ended with two hits as well.
San Diego, which hasn't been to the postseason since 2006, sends promising young right-hander Mat Latos to the mound Sunday and hopes he can put the brakes on a four-start losing streak. Latos' last win was Sept. 7 versus Los Angeles and dropped his latest outing versus the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday from Petco Park.
Latos was reached for four runs -- two earned -- in 5 2/3 innings of a 5-2 loss to the visiting Cubs, falling to 14-9 in 30 starts and raising his earned run average slightly to 2.92. San Francisco beat Latos on Sept. 12 this season and reached him for five runs in four innings of a 6-1 setback. Latos is 2-1 in five career starts against the Giants. He's also 9-5 in 18 road starts overall.
San Diego is also 7-1 at AT&T Park this season.