MIAMI -- For the first time all year, the fans at Marlins Park serenaded Giancarlo Stanton with chants of "MVP!"
And with good reason.
Stanton hit an 84-mph slider from Clayton Richard (6-13) to straight-away center. After circling the bases and celebrating with his teammates, Stanton left the dugout to tip his cap to the fans -- a rare curtain call at Marlins Park.
"I've never seen anybody as locked in as (Stanton) is right now," Marlins center fielder Christian Yelich said. "You feel everything he hits is an absolute rocket. And if he gets it in the air, it's a homer."
Stanton went 3-for-3 with a walk and three RBIs to raise his batting average to .296. He leads the National League in extra-base hits and OPS, and he needs 10 more homers to become just the sixth player in major league history to reach 60 in a single season.
"It's amazing to see," Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon said of Stanton. "He deserves MVP. I don't know anyone who deserves it more."
Stanton is the first National League player to reach 50 homers since Prince Fielder in 2007. In major league history, he's just the sixth player to reach 50 homers by August, joining Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, Luis Gonzalez and Roger Maris.
Of Stanton's homers, 17 have come in August, tying Willie Mays, Sosa and Rudy York for the second most in that month. The record belongs to York, who hit 18 in August of 1937.
But despite all his numbers, Stanton remains humble.
"It's a bit early," he said of the MVP chants. "But I appreciate that the fans are showing love."
Stanton has hit 23 go-ahead homers this year, the most in the majors since Albert Pujols hit that many in 2006.
With Gordon on first base and no outs in the eighth, Padres manager Andy Green had a decision to make.
"Every time (Stanton) comes to the plate, you contemplate walking him," Green said. "He's as locked in as anybody I've ever seen. It reminds me of seeing (Bonds) years ago.
"(Stanton's) presence in the box is extraordinary. You have to give him credit. He changes games. But it's a very difficult proposition to put Gordon on second base with his speed and no outs in the eighth inning and Yelich, (Marcell) Ozuna and the heart of their order coming up."
Thanks in large part to Stanton, the Marlins (66-63) have won four games in a row and 13 of their past 16. Since May 28, the Marlins have one of the top four records in the majors at 49-33.
Miami's Dan Straily allowed two runs in six innings but got a no-decision. Reliever Kyle Barraclough (5-1), who pitched a scoreless eighth, got the win.
San Diego (57-73), which has the second-youngest team in the majors, has lost three games in a row. The Padres hadn't been swept by the Marlins in three or more games since 2012.
Miami scored twice with two outs in the third. Gordon bunted for a hit and scored from first when Stanton laced an opposite-field double to right. San Diego tried to get Gordon at the plate, which allowed Stanton to reach third. On the next play, Richard bounced a wild pitch, allowing Stanton to score.
Richard, a lefty batter, made up for that mistake by pulling a two-run homer down the right-field line, tying the score 2-2 in the fifth. It was his second career homer and his first since 2012. Richard, who turns 34 next month, entered the game with a .114 batting average and a .298 OPS in 273 career at-bats.
As Richard rounded the bases, he pointed toward his bullpen and could not contain a smile.
"That's a lot of fun," Richard said. "You see the guys in the bullpen having a good time. As a pitcher, you don't get that opportunity very often."
The good feeling would not last. After Stanton's homer put Miami up 4-2, the Marlins added two more runs in that inning. Christian Yelich grounded a triple just past first base and scored on a throwing error by second baseman Carlos Asuaje on a relay play. It was Yelich's first triple of the year.
Two batters later, Derek Dietrich drilled his eighth homer of the season and his second in two games.
"A Little League homer," Yelich said of the play, and the inning, that had the fans roaring. "This place came unglued. It was probably the loudest I've heard Marlins Park."
NOTES: SS Miguel Rojas, who rested one day after his first career walk-off RBI, said his Marlins are "coming for Arizona and Colorado", the teams Miami is chasing in the wild-card race. ... Padres RHP Miguel Diaz (forearm strain) will soon make his third and final rehab start and could return to the majors in about a week. ... Padres LHP Brad Hand has a 1.19 ERA in his past 29 games. ... Padres RHP Dinelson Lamet allowed 11 homers in his first nine starts. In his past seven starts, he's allowed just one homer. ... Padres RHP Jhoulys Chacin, who jammed his throwing hand on Wednesday, is expected to start on Monday when the Padres return home to face the San Francisco Giants. That starts an 11-game homestand. ... The Marlins on Monday start a three-game series at the first-place Washington Nationals.