SAN DIEGO. — Left-hander Blake Snell lowered his major league-leading ERA from 2.60 to 2.50 and struck out eight in six scoreless innings, and Juan Soto, Xander Bogaerts, Gary Sanchez and Garrett Cooper homered to carry the San Diego Padres to a 6-1 victory against the San Francisco Giants on Saturday night.
Snell (12-9), who won the AL Cy Young Award while with Tampa Bay in 2018, is building a case to become the sixth player to win the trophy in both leagues. He has 201 strikeouts, the most in a single-season by a Padres left-hander and the second time he’s had more than 200.
The other time was 2018 when he had 218. Another top contender for the NL Cy Young Award, Spencer Strider of the Atlanta Braves, leads the majors with 245 strikeouts.
Snell said he’s not thinking about trying to win another Cy Young Award but rather is motivated by “trying to get to the playoffs. That’s what I want to do. I can feel it from that end, for sure. We’ve got to keep going. We’ve got to make it happen.”
The Padres have been a massive disappointment coming off an appearance in the NL Championship Series last fall and have played well below the expectations that come with having baseball’s third-highest payroll. They’re nine games under .500 and 6 1/2 games out of the final wild-card spot, with four teams ahead of them.
The Giants are tied with Arizona for the last playoff berth.
Snell held the Giants to three hits and allowed two baserunners in each of his final two innings but got through unscathed. He walked four to increase his major league-leading total to 89. He threw a season-high 113 pitches.
“He’s very motivated right now. When he’s out there with guys on base, he picks it up a notch,” manager Bob Melvin said. Pitching coach Ruben Niebla made a mound visit with one out in the sixth after Snell issued his second walk of the inning and the left-hander retired the next two batters.
“Little uncomfortable with the pitch count, but he’s pretty motivated and focused on getting the last two guys out,” Melvin said.
“He’s unbelievable, man,” Bogaerts said about Snell. “That’s a long run he’s been on, of dominance. He started off a little shaky. But man, every time he’s going six with no runs or one run. If you’re lucky you get one.”
Giants rookie Kyle Harrison (1-1) allowed all four Padres home runs. Soto connected to center field in the first, his team-leading 27th. Xander Bogaerts homered to center leading off the second, and Sanchez drove a ball to the base of the batter’s eye in center two batters later.
“It was good to get some runs early,” Bogaerts said. “We should be able to do it against everyone. It’s not easy though. It’s good to at least start winning some games, you know. You never know what can happen, man.”
With Soto and Bogaerts aboard with two outs in the sixth, Cooper homered to left-center to chase Harrison.
“It’s nice when we’re hitting home runs like that, scoring runs, putting pressure on the other team,” Snell said. “It’s a beautiful thing. To be able to get three runs in the first two innings, that’s huge. A good team win and good energy in the dugout today. It was fun today. We were loose and we were playing ball like we should be.”
Harrison allowed six runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings, struck out five and walked two.
Austin Slater hit an RBI double for the Giants in the ninth off Ray Kerr.
Giants RHP Alex Cobb (7-5, 3.57 ERA), who came within one out of no-hitting Cincinnati on Tuesday night, and Padres RHP Seth Lugo (5-6, 3.67) are scheduled to start the series finale Sunday.
AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb