SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The final game of the season for the San Diego Padres pretty much went like most of the year: It started out with promise, collapsed in the middle and ended quietly.
The process of fixing all the problems already has begun.
The Padres lost 9-3 to the wild-card bound San Francisco Giants in Sunday's season finale. San Diego could get a glimpse of where they want to be — in the playoffs — by looking in the opposite dugout.
Padres manager Bud Black used September as a chance to gauge the team's young talent. He said he plans to meet with new general manager A.J. Preller soon and is looking forward to helping the club regroup for next season.
"I think it's too early to tell what's going to happen with these guys moving forward but we have an idea of what they can do, what they can't do, what they need to work on," Black said. "But we have a pretty good idea of their skill sets."
Padres starter Robbie Erlin (4-5) took the mound with a 2-0 lead. But he allowed four hits and four runs in 1 2-3 innings, and the bullpen didn't fare much better.
The Padres (77-85) dropped their final three games at San Francisco and finished third in the NL West.
"Early in the year, if we score a little bit more runs I think we would have won more games for them," catcher Rene Rivera said of the pitching staff.
The Giants (88-74) geared up for the NL wild-card game behind home runs from Buster Posey and Adam Duvall before scoring four runs in the seventh inning.
San Francisco will play at Pittsburgh on Wednesday. The winner will face the NL East champion Washington Nationals in a five-game divisional series.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy, the Padres' former skipper, got just about everything he wanted out of the 162nd game: the regulars tuned up, the bullpen pitched stress-free innings and nobody got injured.
Even starter-turned-reliever Tim Lincecum (12-9) tossed two scoreless innings for the win.
Posey, Hunter Pence and Pablo Sandoval all started after getting a day off Saturday to rest. They were replaced in the middle innings along with most of the other starters, including first baseman Brandon Belt, who left with a tight groin that Bochy called a minor injury.
Giants rookie Chris Heston tossed four innings in his first major league start. He allowed three runs and six hits.
But everything Sunday was secondary. The only result that really matters is the next one for San Francisco.
The Giants won the World Series in each of their last two postseason trips — in 2010 and 2012 — and many of the team's current players have experience in the kind of pressure-packed game ahead. They won six elimination games before sweeping Detroit for their last title, and they'll need a similar effort to put Pittsburgh away.
"The guys who have been through it know that's it's going to come down to pitching well and playing good defense," Posey said. "And I think we have the offense that can get hot and sustain that hotness for a few weeks."
Padres: Black said nobody on his team is expected to have any offseason procedures. "Medically, we're all doing fine," he said.
Giants: OF Michael Morse (strained left side) said he's feeling better but remains doubtful to be activated for the wild-card game.
Giants: LHP Madison Bumgarner (18-10, 2.98 ERA) will start Wednesday at Pittsburgh. Bochy said he felt comfortable with Bumgarner or Jake Peavy on the mound, "but Bum's our guy. The last few years, the job he's doing, I don't think there was any question who you pitch that game." If the Giants beat Pittsburgh, Peavy would pitch Game 1 against Washington.
Padres: San Diego opens the 2015 season at the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 6.
Brett Bochy, the son of the Giants' manager, pitched a perfect ninth to close out the regular season. Father and son both called the moment "special," and the manager said he would keep the lineup card as a souvenir.