The San Diego Padres were without question the surprise of Major League Baseball. Starting the season with the fourth lowest payroll in baseball, they led the National League West for a good portion of the 2010 season before fading in September. Today, their season was laid to rest.

The San Francisco Giants used six pitchers to combine on a four-hit shutout, sending the San Diego Padres home with a 3-0 loss, ending their magical season and knocking them out of the playoffs.

With the Atlanta Braves beating the Philadelphia Phillies earlier in the afternoon, 8-7, the Padres needed the victory to force a two-day playoff. With the win, they would have played the Giants at home to decide the NL West Division winner, and then the loser of that game would play Atlanta for the right to be the NL Wildcard team.

Padres starting pitcher Mat Latos got into trouble in the bottom of the third.With one out, Giants starting pitcher Jonathan Sanchez tripled to right field. After striking out Andres Torres, Latos gave up a single to Freddie Sanchez, scoring J. Sanchez with the game’s first run. Aubrey Huff then doubled to deep center, scoring F. Sanchez to give the Giants a 2-0 lead.

With the way the Giants bullpen has pitched over the last two weeks, those two runs would prove to be more than enough.

The Padres put runners on first and second with no outs in the top of sixth, with an Adrian Gonzalez single and walk to Ryan Ludwick. That was it for Jonathan Sanchez, who surrendered to Santiago Casilla.

Casilla induced a 5-4 double play grounder to Yorbit Torrealba, then got Scott Hairston on a fielder’s choice, Torrealba being forced out at second to get out of the inning.

The Padres threatened again in the seventh, Denorfia singling to right, and David Eckstein reaching on Casilla’s error, putting runners at first and second once again. Giants reliever Ramon Ramirez shut the door this time, getting Miguel Tejada swinging at a nasty slider for the third strike, ending the threat.

Closer Brian Wilson came on to close it out in the ninth for the Giants, giving him his 48th save of the year, tying the Giants record for saves in a season, held by Rod Beck.

The Giants will now play host to the Atlanta Braves in the NLDS, while the Philadelphia Phillies play host to the Cincinnati Reds in the other NLDS matchup.

The Padres gave a great effort this weekend, needing to win all three games of the series to force a playoff. Sunday’s effort wasn’t enough, and they’ll be watching from the sidelines, wondering to themselves what could have been.

For continuing baseball updates, you follow Doug on Twitter, @Sports_A_Holic.
Doug is featured writer for and Green Celebrity Network.

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