SAN DIEGO—The San Diego Padres held their annual “Shirts Off Their Backs” fundraising raffle Thursday, when fans walked away with players’ jerseys after the final regular-season home game.The Padres might as well have offered the bats out of their hands. When they needed it most, their offense simply wasn’t there.Held to just three singles, the Padres lost 1-0 to the Cubs and were pushed to the brink of elimination from the playoff race. Brad Snyder, a 28-year-old rookie who was called up from Triple-A less than a month ago, hit an opposite-field RBI single off All-Star closer Heath Bell with one out in the ninth inning.Revenge a bit for 1984(Padres beat the Cubs in the NLCS)? Just a tiny bit.The loss reduced San Francisco’s magic number for clinching the NL West to one and idle Atlanta’s magic number for clinching the NL wild card to two.The Padres trail the Giants by three games going into the final three-game series at San Francisco.San Diego, which started the season with the second-lowest payroll in the majors, led the NL West for much of the summer until staggering down the stretch. The Padres have lost 22 of 34 games since Aug. 25, when they were 76-49 and had a 6 ½-game lead over the Giants in the NL West.In their somber clubhouse, the Padres kept saying they can win three straight games. But to simply force a one-game playoff for the division title, they’ll have to get past Matt Cain, Barry Zito and Jonathan Sanchez. Sanchez no-hit San Diego in 2009. San Francisco’s manager, Bruce Bochy, was forced out as San Diego’s skipper after the Padres lost to St. Louis in the first round of the 2006 playoffs.San Diego has won 10 of 15 games against the Giants this season.It’s the first time the Padres have trailed by three games since April 17. The Padres are two games behind Atlanta, which closes with a home series against the NL East champion Philadelphia Phillies.San Diego has averaged only 2.79 runs per game its last 34 games. They’ve been shut out five times in that span, including two 1-0 losses in this four-game series. They scored just five runs on 17 hits in losing three of four to the Cubs. They had no hits after the second inning Thursday.Aramis Ramirez started the Cubs’ ninth with a broken-bat single to right-center off Bell (6-1) and was replaced by pinch-runner Darwin Barney. Xavier Nady laid down a sacrifice bunt and Barney scored on Snyder’s single to left.Cubs interim manager Mike Quade said Nady sacrificed on his own.Sean Marshall (7-5) got two outs in the eighth for the win. Carlos Marmol pitched a perfect ninth for his 37th save in 42 chances.San Diego’s Jon Garland held San Diego to four hits in 6 1-3 scoreless innings, struck out eight and walked one. Tom Gorzelanny allowed three hits in six scoreless innings, walked four and struck out three for the Cubs.
NOTES—The game started after a 22-minute rain delay…..The crowd of 28,576 gave the Padres a final home attendance of 2,131,774….The Cubs have surrendered three or fewer runs in 13 straight road games dating to Sept. 10, the longest streak by the franchise since 1920….The Cubs finish the season with three in Houston starting Friday night.