Giants beat Padres to clinch NL West title

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In defeating the Padres 8-4, the Giants won their sixth straight game Saturday to clinch the NL West title with 10 games to play.

“I’ll take this one,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “I like a margin of error.”

It’s the second time in three years the Giants have won the NL West. Of course, they won the World Series after taking their division in 2010. However, this will be just the team’s second trip to the postseason in nine years.

“It’s the first step,” Pablo Sandoval said. “We’re excited to get it done early.”

Surprisingly, the Giants have done it with offense of late. They’re on pace to finish with their most runs scored since 2006, Barry Bonds’ next-to-last year in the bigs. However, they’re also going to finish with their most runs allowed since 2008.

As for tonight’s game, it was Marco Scutaro and Brandon Belt carrying the load. Scutaro went 3-for-5 and knocked in three runs. He’s working on a 12-game hitting streak that has raised his season average to .304. He’s reached base at least twice in all but one of the games during the streak.

Belt homered, doubled, walked and scored three times.

Madison Bumgarner got the win after allowing three runs — two earned — in 5 2/3 innings. He’s 16-10 with a 3.26 ERA.

Bryce Harper will participate in the Home Run Derby if he makes the All-Star team

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Bryce Harper has, in recent years, declined participation in the Home Run Derby, with his last go at it coming in 2013, losing to Yoenis Cespedes in the final round. With the All-Star Game taking place at Nationals Park in Washington, however, he has changed his mind, saying today that he will compete if he is selected for the All-Star team.

Harper is currently second in voting among National League outfielders, so he stands a pretty good chance of making it. Even if he falls off in the voting, you have to assume that the powers that be will nudge NL manager A.J. Hinch to select Harper as a reserve, partially because of his actual power — he does have 19 homers so far this year — but mostly for his star power.

Simply put, you know dang well that both Major League Baseball and the Nationals want a home town guy with big time star power in the Derby, even if he’s not having as good a year as he’s capable of. As such, figure to see Harper hitting long balls in D.C. on July 16.