As Giancarlo Stanton goes, so go the Marlins.
Stanton hit his 50th home run Sunday, a go-ahead two-run shot in the eighth that propelled the surging Marlins to a 6-2 victory and sweep over the San Diego Padres.
The crowd of 23,725 erupted when Stanton’s ball cleared the wall in center and began chanting “MVP! MVP!” once he returned to the dugout. Stanton doffed his helmet to the crowd from the top of the dugout steps.
“For here, that’s about as lively it’s been,” Stanton said. “It’s cool that they’re acknowledging and showing love like that. I really appreciate it.”
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The home run off Padres starter Clayton Richard was Stanton’s third hit of the day and etched his place in the record books. Stanton became the 28th player in major-league history with at least 50 homers.
He became the first National League player since Prince Fielder in 2007 to hit as many as 50 homers.
Padres hitting coach Mark McGwire, who eclipsed 50 home runs four times during his career, was witness to Stanton’s power throughout the series.
“He’s in the zone,” McGwire said. “It’s called a beach ball. There’s only a few guys that have played this game that know what that feeling is, and I can attest to it. It’s a great feeling, really a great feeling.”
Stanton also became just the sixth player to swat his 50th home run before the end of August. The others: McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds, Luis Gonzalez and Roger Maris.
The Marlins’ slugger has been on an incredible tear, hitting 17 home runs in the month of August alone. Stanton needs to hit one more home run this month to equal the major-league record for August — Rudy York’s 18 in 1937.
Stanton’s epic home run tear has fueled the Marlins to an incredible August run and put them in the wild-card playoff chase.
The Marlins — who were seven games under .500 with a record of 53-60 on Aug. 10 — have now won 13 of their past 16 games to improve to 66-63, the first time this season they have been as many as three games over .500. The Marlins are 4 1/2 games back in the wild-card race with 33 games remaining.
“It’s a new gear for us and one we’ve got to keep pushing,” Stanton said. “We’re doing good but we can do better. We need to do better to get there.”
Stanton drove in three runs Sunday to give him 108 RBI.
The Marlins took a 2-0 lead in the third when Stanton doubled in one run and scored from third on Richard’s wild pitch.
But one bad pitch by Dan Straily erased it.
After Straily walked Dusty Coleman with one out, he gave up a two-run homer to Richard on the first pitch he threw to the Padres starter. It was only the second home run of Richards’ career.
But after Dee Gordon singled to lead off the eighth, Stanton belted his 50th home run into the shrubbery in center.
“It’s got to be up there with the best,” Stanton said of where it ranked among his 258 career homers. “My career high. Put us up. Gave us the sweep. Pretty good things all around about it.”
▪ Monday: Marlins RHP Jose Urena (12-5, 3.68) at Washington Nationals RHP Max Scherzer (12-5, 2.25), 7:05 p.m., Marlins Park.
▪ Tuesday: Marlins (TBA) at Washington Nationals (TBA), 7:05 p.m., Nationals Park.