SAN FRANCISCO -- If Wednesday's start against the Cubs was the last for Chris Young in a Padres uniform, the veteran right-hander certainly finished his career in San Diego on a high note.

Young, who has an $8.5 million club option for 2011 that likely will not get picked up, allowed two earned runs over 14 innings in his three starts since coming off the disabled list in mid-September. He put together a late-season run that didn't look always look plausible when he spent the first 5 1/2 months of the season sidelined with a strained right shoulder.

"I'm just thankful I had this opportunity. It's been unbelievable," Young said. "Hopefully there's more to come. I'll be prepared and keep going, but it's been so much fun to be in this environment."

Young would be the likely candidate to make another start should the Padres force a one-game playoff against either the Giants or Braves, pending this weekend's results. But that, of course, is no guarantee with a three-game series in San Francisco beginning Friday.

The right-hander admitted the thought that Wednesday's outing might be his last as a member of the Padres did cross his mind, but he said his primary focus was helping lead the club to victory in the final week of the regular season.

Young has compiled a 33-25 record during his five seasons in San Diego, many of them shortened by a variety of injuries, and was an All-Star in 2007.

But while Young's resurgence down the stretch proved that his personal health has returned to form, he said the most gratifying part of taking the mound in September has been getting the chance to be a part of the Padres' playoff push.

"To be a part of the win at the end of the season, and really, three wins for me at the end of the season, [and] to see this team where we are now as compared to the last two years, it's really special," Young said. "It hasn't been easy getting here, but we've got an unbelievable group of guys [and] a group of guys that believe in each other that have put in the time and effort and have really overachieved, I think, what everybody's expectations were for us.

"To be a part of it has really validated every day of rehab I've been through."

Padres missing thump in lineup

SAN FRANCISCO -- An offense that has scored just five runs in its past four games is arguably the single biggest reason why the Padres have fallen three games behind the Giants in the National League West standings and two games back of the Braves in the NL Wild Card race with three games to play.

But while Padres hitters have struggled collectively, regardless of the place in the order, many of the Padres' troubles at the plate stem from their duo of power bats in the heart of the order in Adrian Gonzalez and Ryan Ludwick.

The pair went a combined 2-for-29 with 10 strikeouts and did not collect an RBI in San Diego's series against the Cubs, where the Padres lost three of the four games. In fact, entering Friday, Gonzalez and Ludwick have driven in just one run over the Padres' last nine games, that run coming on a homer by Gonzalez against the Reds last Sunday. Ludwick belted a leadoff homer in the second inning Friday.

It's safe to say that if the Padres have any shot of staying alive in the playoff picture, those numbers from Ludwick and Gonzalez will have to increase against the Giants this weekend at AT&T Park.

"I've got to hit, plain and simple," Gonzalez said. "I've hit some balls decently the last couple games that haven't found holes, but it's not about finding holes anymore. It's just about finding a way to hit."

Ludwick remains frustrated with his overall offensive woes since being acquired by the Padres in a three-team deal at the Trade Deadline. Entering Friday, the outfielder was hitting .217 with five home runs and 25 RBIs in 56 games with San Diego.

"I'm getting pitches to hit," Ludwick said. "It's one of those things where I couldn't tell you what's wrong. [Padres hitting coach Randy Ready's] been great working with me. Things in the cage and on the field during [batting practice] have been great, but that's not game time.

"At times I'm late, at times I'm early, at times I'm in between. It just hasn't been real consistent. I've got to go up there and try to do my best I can the last three games."

Hairston Jr. lobbying to play again

SAN FRANCISCO -- It's been 2 1/2 weeks since Jerry Hairston Jr. was told that his season was over because of a stress fracture in his right tibia.

Hairston, understandably, didn't want to believe it. In fact, the Padres infielder, who has been called the team's unsung hero in 2010, still doesn't.

And now with his team on the brink of elimination, Hairston said Friday that he plans to lobby head athletic trainer Todd Hutcheson for clearance to, at the very least, pinch-hit during a three-game series against the Giants.

Hairston took batting practice Thursday at PETCO Park and got his swings in again Friday.

"I'm trying to force the issue," Hairston said, before running off to hit.

Hairston was told on Sept. 20, after an MRI, that what he thought were shin splints was actually a stress fracture. Since he's not on the disabled list, the Padres wouldn't need to activate him in order for him to play.

The Padres are 64-41 in games Hairston has started this season and are 6-6 since his last game on Sept. 17.