That doesn't mean the young Padres aren't trying, and the experience they have gained against a number of contenders is setting the team up for a promising season next year.
After facing the playoff-bound Giants in San Francisco over the weekend, the Padres host the scuffling -- but still alive -- Dodgers for a three-game set starting Tuesday.
"You have to be positive and know that we have a good team," Yonder Alonso said. "We're going to be there, definitely going to be there."
Until then, San Diego will continue trying to gain momentum before heading into the offseason, and starter Edinson Volquez gets the start Tuesday to keep that trend going.
The Padres take on a Dodgers team that is clinging to slim playoff hopes despite a number of high-profile trades.
One of the players acquired, starter Josh Beckett, will try to keep the Dodgers from falling further back in the National League Wild Card race. He is 5-1 with a 2.16 ERA in six career starts against the Padres, but he hasn't faced them since 2007.
Since being traded to the Dodgers, Beckett has gone 1-2 with a 3.45 ERA in five starts. He gave up four runs -- three earned -- in 7 1/3 innings against Washington his last time out.
"I think I was maybe not making pitches on the corner, but the ball was down," Beckett said afterward. "I was getting some weak contact."
Dodgers: Kershaw back in action
After a week of speculation about whether Clayton Kershaw would pitch again in 2012, the reigning NL Cy Young winner started the Dodgers' series finale on Sunday against the Reds.
Kershaw lasted five innings and gave up five hits while walking five batters. He struck out five and allowed only one earned run while not factoring into the decision.
He has been dealing with a right hip impingement for the past month and offseason surgery could still be a possibility for the ace.
Teammate Jerry Hairston had arthroscopic hip surgery for an impingement and torn labrum last week and rehab is expected to be three to five months.
Padres: Grandal returns one later
One day after being scratched, catcher Yasmani Grandal was back in the lineup Sunday, and he went 1-for-3 with an RBI and two walks against the Giants.
Grandal was scratched from Saturday's game after taking a foul tip to the mask Friday. Concussion test results weren't as reassuring as the Padres had hoped, but he looked good Sunday.
"I could have played [Saturday], but the only thing they were worried about was how I would respond if I got another foul ball to the mask," he said. "We obviously didn't want to risk it."
The Dodgers are 9-6 against the Padres this season and 4-2 in San Diego.
All six of Beckett's career outings against San Diego have been quality starts, including two eight-inning performances.