San Francisco, CA (Sports Network) - Jonathan Sanchez and five relievers combined on a four-hit shutout and the San Francisco Giants captured the NL West title with a 3-0 win over the Padres, eliminating San Diego from playoff contention on the final day of the regular season.
The Giants lost the first two games of this season-concluding series, but are now in the playoffs for the first time since 2003 when they won the NL West. They'll host the Atlanta Braves on Thursday in the opener of that Division Series with NL East winner Philadelphia set to battle NL Central champion Cincinnati in the other first-round best-of-five series.
Sanchez tripled and scored the game's first run, and Buster Posey put the exclamation point on the win with a lead-off homer in the eighth inning.
Atlanta's 8-7 home win over the Phillies earlier Sunday put the Braves a half- game ahead of the Padres in the race for the wild card spot. The Padres, who entered the day also a game behind the Giants in the division, could have forced a three-way tie for the final two postseason spots, but instead were kept on the outside for a fourth straight year.
The Padres (90-72) were ahead by 6 1/2 games on August 25, but then endured a 10-game skid as the Giants (92-70) got back in the race. San Francisco eventually carried a three-game lead into this weekend, but lost 6-4 on Friday and 4-2 on Saturday to set up the dramatic conclusion.
Brian Wilson pitched the final inning for his 48th save as the Giants gave their orange-clad fans a big celebration. Wilson, who tied Rod Beck's single- season save record set in 1993, fanned Will Venable to end the game. The Giants then mobbed the mound.
Sanchez (13-9) allowed three hits and five walks, while fanning five over five-plus frames. Santiago Casilla benefited from a double play in the sixth and pitched through the seventh.