SAN FRANCISCO — The San Francisco Giants became the first major league team to clinch a playoff spot this season, hitting four home runs to beat the San Diego Padres 9-1 on Monday night for their season-high eighth consecutive victory.
After finishing 29-31 in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, the Giants have turned it around in manager Gabe Kapler's second year. They have the best record in baseball (94-50) with 18 games remaining — guaranteeing them at least a wild card as they try to hold off the rival Dodgers for the NL West title.
San Francisco extended its latest hot streak by getting early power at the plate and steady pitching from the bullpen after opener Dominic Leone threw two strong innings.
Tommy La Stella connected on the fourth pitch from Padres starter Yu Darvish and Evan Longoria hit a three-run homer five batters later. Mike Yastrzemski added a solo shot in the fourth, when Brandon Belt also went deep as San Francisco secured a postseason berth for the first time since 2016.
All four home runs came off Darvish (8-10).
The five-time All-Star continued to struggle in his first season with San Diego after starting 6-1. Darvish lasted four innings, allowing six hits and eight runs.
The Padres scored on back-to-back doubles by Trent Grisham and Fernando Tatis Jr. off Jarlin Garcia in the third.
Zack Littell (3-0) retired five batters to get the win. Jose Alvarez, Camilo Doval and Kervin Castro followed and combined for four scoreless innings.
Eric Hosmer and Wil Myers had two hits apiece for San Diego. The Padres fell one game behind idle Cincinnati for the second NL wild card.
Padres: RHP Chris Paddack was placed on the 10-day injured list with right elbow inflammation, an injury he apparently aggravated playing catch before the game. That's a blow to the rotation, as Blake Snell is receiving treatment for groin tightness that limited him to 11 pitches against the Dodgers on Sunday. RHP Shaun Anderson was recalled from Triple-A El Paso to fill Paddack's roster spot.
Giants: LHP Jose Quintana was reinstated from the paternity list. OF Mauricio Dubon was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento.
RHP Jake Arrieta (5-12, 7.04 ERA) makes his third start for the Padres since signing as a minor league free agent Aug. 16. Arrieta allowed three runs in five innings during his last outing against the Astros.
Giants RHP Anthony DeSclafani (11-6, 3.33) is winless in his previous four starts and has allowed six earned runs over the last 14 2/3 innings.