The San Francisco Giants clinched their first postseason berth since 2016 on Monday night, using a five-run first inning against Yu Darvish as a springboard to a 9-1 victory over the visiting San Diego Padres.
Tommy La Stella led off the bottom of the first with a home run and Evan Longoria added a three-run shot five batters later, helping the Giants (94-50) earn their eighth consecutive win. San Francisco clinched no worse than a National League wild-card berth into the playoffs.
The winningest team in the majors, the Giants became the first to assure themselves of a spot in the postseason.
A fourth consecutive loss formally eliminated the Padres (74-69) from the NL West title race, which now becomes a two-team duel between the Giants and second-place Los Angeles Dodgers.
San Diego also fell out of playoff position and now trails Cincinnati by a half-game in the battle for the NL’s second wild-card spot.
Six Giants pitchers combined on a seven-hitter in a bullpen game, with Dominic Leone, Jarlin Garcia, Zack Littell, Jose Alvarez, Camilo Doval and Kervin Castro combining for 11 strikeouts.
Making his third start, Leone threw two shutout innings, allowing one hit. Littell (3-0), who retired all five batters he faced in the fourth and fifth innings, was credited with the win.
The Padres’ only run came in the third on back-to-back doubles by Trent Grisham and Fernando Tatis Jr.
By that point, the Giants already enjoyed a five-run cushion, thanks to La Stella’s fifth homer of the season and Longoria’s 12th. In between, LaMonte Wade Jr. drove in a run with a triple.
Mike Yastrzemski added a solo shot, his 23rd, and Brandon Belt a two-run blast, his 24th, in a three-run fourth that blew the game wideopen.
Darvish (8-10) was pulled after the fourth, charged with eight runs on six hits. He walked three and struck out three.
Longoria completed a four-RBI night with a run-scoring single in the eighth to put a wrap on the game’s scoring.
Longoria finished with two hits and Wade scored twice for the Giants, who improved their record against the Padres this season to 6-4 with nine meetings remaining.
Eric Hosmer and Wil Myers had two hits apiece for San Diego.