SAN DIEGO (AP) — Juan Soto hit a 461-foot homer and had four RBIs for the San Diego Padres, who were pushed closer to elimination from the playoff picture even as they beat the St. Louis Cardinals 12-2 in their home finale Sunday.
Right fielder Fernando Tatis Jr. made a spectacular leaping catch to rob pinch-hitter Michael Siani of a home run in the sixth. Tatis did a little dance and acknowledged the crowd’s ovation. Tatis began his career as a shortstop but took over in right after he returned April 20 from an 80-game PED suspension. He missed all of last year with injuries and the suspension.
Jose Azocar also homered for the Padres, who had nine extra-base hits in winning for the ninth time in 10 games. Their best stretch of the season is likely coming too late to avoid an embarrassing pratfall.
The Padres came into this season with World Series aspirations after reaching the NL Championship Series last fall but have been a major disappointment. They’ve been under .500 since May 12 despite having a payroll of around $250 million, the third-highest in the majors.
Xander Bogaerts doubled, tripled and scored twice for the Padres, who moved closer to elimination from the wild-card race after the Chicago Cubs and Arizona Diamondbacks both won.
Soto hit a three-run homer off lefty Drew Rom (1-4) in the first inning, his 33rd. It brought in Bogaerts, who was aboard on a leadoff double, and Ha-Seong Kim, who reached on a two-base error when right fielder Jordan Walker, fighting the sun, had the ball bounce off his glove as well as his right hand before it hit the ground.
Soto added an RBI double in the fourth and finished a triple shy of the cycle. He was one of four players to score two runs.
Luis Campusano also had three hits. Eguy Rosario tripled and scored on Bogaerts’ triple in the second and then hit a two-run double in the sixth. The Padres tied their season high with 18 hits.
Michael Wacha (13-4) held the Cardinals to two runs and six hits in seven innings while striking out six and walking one against his original team. His only big mistake was allowing Luken Baker’s two-run homer in the seventh, his second.
Rom allowed eight runs, six earned, and 11 hits in 3 1/3 innings.
The announced sellout crowd of 42,505 extended the Padres’ single-season home attendance record to 3,232,310, in 79 games. Two games against San Francisco in Mexico City in late April don’t count in the total. It was the 61st sellout.
Cardinals: LHP Zack Thompson (5-7, 4.57 ERA) is scheduled to pitch Tuesday night in the opener of a three-game series at Milwaukee, which will counter with RHP Adrian Houser (7-4, 4.35).
Padres: LHP Blake Snell (14-9, 2.33), a leading NL Cy Young Award contender who leads the big leagues in ERA, is scheduled to start Monday night at San Francisco opposite RHP Logan Webb (10-13, 3.35).