Hero: Tom Gorzelanny finished his season by allowing just three hits over six innings while walking four and striking out three.
Goat: Starlin Castro, trying to become just the fourth 20-year-old rookie shortstop since 1901 to hit .300 or better (Alex Rodriguez, .358 in 1996; Arky Vaughan, .318 in 1932; Travis Jackson, .302 in 1924), saw his average drop to .298 by going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. Many of Castro's offerings against Padres starter Jon Garland and reliever Mike Adams were tenative, defensive-looking cuts. The rookie has just three hits in his last 22 at-bats and is hitting below .300 for the first time since July 21.
Key Play: Brad Snyder's seeing-eye, groundball single through the left side of the infield with one out in the top of the ninth, off San Diego closer Heath Bell (6-1), scored pinch runner Darwin Barney from second with the game's only run. It was the first run allowed by Bell since Sept. 14.
Comments: Thursday's victory by the Cubs (73-86), their 13th in 27 shutout games this season, was their ninth in their last 10 road games and dealt a major blow to the postseason dreams of the Padres (88-71).
San Diego, which finishes its season with a three-game series at San Francisco, will need to sweep the set in order to force a one-game playoff. The Padres trail wild-card leading Atlanta, which hosts Philadelphia in a three-game weekend series, by two games.
The Padres' best scoring chance came when David Eckstein and Miguel Tejada opened the bottom of the sixth with back-to-back walks against Gorzelanny. But Adrian Gonzalez, their best hitter, rolled into a 6-3 double play and Ryan Ludwick flew out to Marlon Byrd in center.
Carlos Marmol set down the Padres in order in the ninth and struck out Gonzalez and Ludwick for the final two outs to nail down his 37th save of the season and his 13th in September. The 27-year-old Dominican right-hander, who has five blown saves this season, has converted 16 straight save opportunities. He has not allowed a run in his last 17 2/3 innings.
Next: The Cubs open a season-ending three-game series in Houston (75-84) on Friday (CSN, 7:05 p.m.) with Casey Coleman (3-2, 4.68 ERA) opposing Astros right-hander Bud Norris (9-9, 5.00). Norris has won seven of 10 decisions since the All-Star break.
The Cubs trail fourth-place Houston by two games and third-place Milwaukee by 2.5.