Giants clinch playoff spot, thump Padres 9-1 for 8th in row

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — 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 done a complete turnaround in manager Gabe Kapler’s second season. They have the best record in baseball (94-50) with 18 games remaining — nine of them against the Padres, who are trying to win an NL wild card.

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 shot five batters later. Mike Yastrzemski added a solo homer in the fourth when Brandon Belt also went deep as San Francisco secured a spot in the postseason for the first time since 2016.

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More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/tag/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Michael Wagaman, The Associated Press

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