Despite his Padres facing long odds in both the National League West and Wild Card races heading into Friday night's action, Friars manager Bud Black remained resolute in his club's resilience.
"We're still breathing," Black said on Thursday. "We've still got a chance. It's not over."
At the end of play on Friday night, those long odds were trimmed a bit, and the Padres were still breathing, still had a chance, and neither race was over.
The Padres toppled the first-place Giants in the opener of a critical three-game set at AT&T Park, drawing to within two games of San Francisco with two to play. Adrian Gonzalez, Ryan Ludwick and Matt Stairs homered off Matt Cain, and the Friars bullpen staved off a Giants rally.
Of equal (or perhaps greater) importance, the Phillies ripped the Braves at Turner Field, so the Padres pulled to within one game behind Atlanta in the Wild Card hunt. Jimmy Rollins roped a grand slam as Kyle Kendrick bested Brandon Beachy, who started in place of the ailing Jair Jurrjens.
Potential ties would break down as such:
If the Padres take two of three from the Giants and the Braves are swept by the Phillies, the Giants will win the NL west and the Padres and Braves will play a one-game tiebreaker at Turner Field on Monday to decide the Wild Card.
If the Padres sweep the Giants and the Braves are swept by the Phillies, the Padres will win the NL West by virtue of their head-to-head advantage against the Giants, and the Giants will win the Wild Card.
If the Padres sweep the Giants and the Braves lose two of three to the Phillies, there will be a three-way tie by virtue of each team finishing with a 91-71 record, in which case two tiebreakers will be played. The Giants and Padres will first play a one-game tiebreaker at PETCO Park on Monday to decide the victor of the NL West, and the loser of that game would then travel to Atlanta to decide the Wild Card against the Braves on Tuesday.
Elsewhere in postseason comings and goings, the Rays fell a half-game behind the Yankees in the American League East and are now in sole possession of the Wild Card after falling to the Royals for the second consecutive night. Bruce Chen did the honors, handcuffing Tampa Bay's lineup, and James Shields was roughed up. The Bronx Bombers were idle, having been rained out at Yankee Stadium, and will play a doubleheader against the Red Sox on Saturday.
Josh Hamilton returned to the Rangers' lineup for the first time since breaking his ribs on Sept. 4. The slugger went 0-for-3 and played center field for six innings before being lifted, but most importantly, reported no pain after falling onto his side while in pursuit of a fly ball into the gap in left-center field.
Padres 6, Giants 4
The Padres belted three homers off Matt Cain en route to taking an early six-run lead, then held off a charge from the Giants to stay alive in both the National League West and Wild Card races. Wrap >
Phillies 11, Braves 5
The Braves entered Friday with a magic number of two to clinch the Wild Card, but Jimmy Rollins' slam in a five-run sixth inning propelled the Phils past their rivals, and the Padres beat the Giants to pull within one game of Atlanta. Wrap >
Angels 5, Rangers 4, 11 innings
Josh Hamilton went 0-for-3 in his return for the Rangers, who rallied in the ninth on a double-steal to tie the score before Angels slugger Juan Rivera ended matters with his second homer of the game in the 11th. Wrap >
Royals 7, Rays 0
Handcuffed by Bruce Chen -- and at a disadvantage due to James Shields' struggles -- the Rays couldn't make progress toward the AL East title, ending the night a half-game back after the Yanks were postponed. Wrap >
Blue Jays 6, Twins 3
Edwin Encarnacion capped the Blue Jays' four-run eighth inning with a three-run homer, and Ricky Romero hurled eight strong frames for his 14th win to hand the playoff-bound Twins their seventh loss in eight games. Wrap >
Orioles 2, Tigers 1 (Game 2)
Jeremy Guthrie was stellar, and when the O's claimed the doubleheader vs. Detroit, Buck Showalter became the first manager since 1900 to take over a team in August or later and double the win total from the year. Wrap >
Mets 2, Nationals 1
Josh Thole's 10th-inning homer gave the Mets a walk-off win and made sure that Pat Misch's eight-inning effort didn't go to waste. Misch fanned a career-high 10; Ike Davis added a solo homer, his 19th blast of 2010. Wrap >
Brewers 4, Reds 3, 11 innings
Casey McGehee's RBI hit scored Corey Hart in the 11th inning to cap a Brewers comeback, on a night when Reds starter Travis Wood didn't allow a hit until Rickie Weeks' sixth-inning home run. Wrap >
A's 9, Mariners 0
Trevor Cahill's final start went considerably better than Luke French's. Daric Barton roped a pair of home runs -- including his first career grand slam -- as the A's jumped all over the Mariners for Cahill's 18th victory. Wrap >
Pirates 5, Marlins 1
Chan Ho Park tossed three perfect frames in relief to become the winningest Asian-born pitcher and both Chris Snyder and Pedro Alvarez blasted home runs as Pittsburgh earned its 17th victory on the road. Wrap >
Cardinals 3, Rockies 0
Jake Westbrook dominated in what may have been his final Cardinals start, fanning nine Rockies, who lost Miguel Olivo in the first when the catcher was hit by Albert Pujols' backswing before getting carted off. Wrap >
Cubs 2, Astros 0
Astros starter Bud Norris limited the Cubs to two runs while walking seven, but that was enough support for Casey Coleman, who pitched seven scoreless innings while helping his cause with an RBI double. Wrap >
Indians 7, White Sox 3
Holding a three-run lead after the first three hitters, the Indians pushed their winning streak to a season-high seven games by beating the White Sox. Wrap >
D-backs 7, Dodgers 5
Left-hander Zach Kroenke allowed one run on two hits over five strong innings in his first Major League start to lead the D-backs past the Dodgers. Wrap >
Orioles 10, Tigers 6 (Game 1)
Early on, it looked like Jeremy Bonderman was going to have his way with the Orioles. But the O's six-run inning put any of those thoughts to rest and Chris Tillman's strong effort saw the Birds cruise. Wrap >
Dan Mennella is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.