Reporting from San Francisco — The San Diego Padres came to San Francisco three days ago with a huge mountain to climb to reach the playoffs. They'll wake up Sunday with the summit in sight.
"One hundred and sixty-one games," pitcher Jon Garland said. "And we've got one more to decide it."
That might not even be enough though. But at least after Saturday's 4-2 win over the Giants, the Padres now have a couple of routes they can take to the postseason.
This, however, is where it gets complicated.
If the Giants beat the Padres and the Atlanta Braves beat Philadelphia on Sunday, the Giants make the playoffs as the National League West champions and the Braves as the wild card.
If the Giants win and the Braves lose, the Giants win the division and Atlanta would play host to the Padres in a one-game playoff Monday to determine the wild-card team.
If the Padres win and the Braves lose Sunday, San Diego would win the division and San Francisco would be the wild card.
And finally, if the Padres and Braves both win, forcing a three-way tie at 91-71, the Giants would travel to San Diego for a one-game playoff Monday to decide the division and the loser would face the Braves on Tuesday in Atlanta to determine the wild card.
Got it? Good. Because even some of those in the thick of things haven't bothered to figure it out.
"I haven't thought about all the scenarios," Padres Manager Bud Black said. "As a group, we've just thought about coming up here and winning one game. And now we have to do that again.
"We need to do what we've done the last two days. Come out and pitch well, score enough runs and play our game."
The Giants, meanwhile, have to find their game again. After limiting opponents to three runs or less in 22 of its final 24 games in September, San Francisco gave up 10 runs to the Padres in less than 24 hours.
Starter Barry Zito was the culprit Saturday, giving up back-to-back singles to the game's first two hitters, then giving up back-to-back walks later in the inning to fall behind 2-0.
The Padres got another run in the third on three singles and a throwing error. And when Zito walked pitcher Tim Stauffer to start the fourth his day was done, forcing him to watch from the dugout as Stauffer came around to score to make it 4-0 San Diego.
"I wanted to win for the team," said Zito, whose outing was his shortest in more than two seasons. "We've been battling all year, coaching staff, the fans. To go out there and to scuffle and not be able to give ourselves a chance to win, I'm extremely disappointed in myself."
The four runs proved to be more than enough support for Stauffer, who held the Giants to a hit into the seventh inning to breathe new life into the Padres' once-faint playoff hopes.
Now the season is in the shaky hands of 14-game winner Mat Latos, who has won just one of his last seven starts and has a 10.13 ERA in his last four outings. The Giants are expected to counter with 12-game winner Jonathan Sanchez, who is 0-3 against San Diego this season.
For the 22-year-old Latos — as well as many of his young teammates — Sunday's game will be the closest thing to a playoff atmosphere they've ever experienced. So second baseman David Eckstein, a two-time world champion and former World Series most valuable player, has a pregame message for anyone who bothers to ask.
"Just go out there and play the game," he said. "You've done it since you were a little kid. That's all you've got to do. It's the same game.
"The team that handles it better as a game, as opposed to worrying about everything else, will come out victorious. [Sunday] we start fresh. We've just got to keep playing our game."