ATLANTA — — Nelson Cruz isn’t eager to talk about his age.
The slugger just wants to produce whenever he’s in the lineup, and he is proving he still belongs in the major leagues.
Cruz hit a three-run homer and drove in six runs, and the San Diego Padres beat the Atlanta Braves 10-2 on Sunday night for their third consecutive victory.
At 42 years and 282 days, Cruz became the second-oldest player to homer for the Padres, just one day younger than Rickey Henderson was when he went deep on Oct. 4, 2001. It was the most RBI for Cruz since he drove in seven on July 26, 2020, for Minnesota against the Chicago White Sox.
“It’s nice, especially against the Braves,” Cruz said. “They have a really good team, so it shows how deep we are as a team. To win three of four against the Braves tells a lot.”
Seth Lugo pitched six effective innings for San Diego, and Ha-Seong Kim hit a two-run homer. Manny Machado finished with three hits.
The Padres (6-4), who advanced to the NL Championship Series last year, have won three straight for the second time this season.
The NL East champion Braves (6-4) have lost eight of the last 11 games to the Padres at Truist Park.
Cruz, a 19-year veteran, made it 4-0 in the third with his 461st career homer.
“I’m not going to put context to age, but he’s doing very well,” San Diego manager Bob Melvin said. “He’s got nine RBI for us already right now, so trying to get him some good matchups.”
Xander Bogaerts singled and advanced to third on Machado’s single when right fielder Ronald Acuña Jr. took too long to throw to second. One out later, Cruz connected for the second time this season, hitting a drive to left-center off rookie Dylan Dodd‘s 83-mph slider.
Trent Grisham‘s third homer put San Diego up 5-0 in the fourth. Grisham and Bogaerts have reached safely in all 10 games this season.
Dodd (1-1), making his second career start, fell behind 6-0 in the fifth when Juan Soto and Cruz hit consecutive doubles. The lefty gave up 10 hits and seven runs in 4 1/3 innings.
“I obviously didn’t pitch the way I wanted to,” Dodd said. “I was kind of really searching for another pitch other than the fastball. I started to show the changeup later in the game and thought that was something I should have turned to earlier once I realized the slider wasn’t very good for me today.”
Lugo (2-0) made his fourth career start and 28th appearance against Atlanta after spending the last seven seasons with the New York Mets. He gave up five hits and one run with four walks and five strikeouts. It was his first start against the Braves since 2017.
“I’ve been whomped up here quite a few times that I remember,” Lugo said. “I know that lineup is really tough to get through and to shut them down the way I did is really gratifying.”
The Padres took a 10-1 lead in the sixth on a two-run single by Cruz, who was hit in the foot by a pitch from Danny Young in the ninth.
Acuña and Matt Olson each drove in run for Atlanta. Olson’s 11 RBI are the most in the majors for a first baseman.
CLOSER TO RETURN
San Diego’s Fernando Tatis Jr. went 1 for 4 with two walks for Triple-A El Paso in an 8-2 win at Sacramento. Tatis is hitting .231 in 13 at-bats with a double, home run and two RBI in four games with the Chihuahuas. Barring any rainouts, he would be eligible to play for the Padres on April 20 after completing an 80-game suspension for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug.
THAT’S A BALL
Atlanta reliever Lucas Luetge was charged with an automatic ball and started the count 1-0 for taking too long with Bogaerts batting in the sixth. He walked Bogaerts four pitches later.
Padres: OF David Dahl was placed on the 10-day injured list with a right quadriceps strain, and utilityman Brandon Dixon was recalled from Triple-A El Paso.
Braves: C Travis d’Arnaud was placed on the seven-day injured list after sustaining a concussion in Saturday’s game. C Chadwick Tromp was called up from Triple-A Gwinnett to take his place.
Padres: RHP Yu Darvish (0-0, 1.80 ERA) will face Mets RHP Max Scherzer (1-1, 6.35 ERA) on Monday when the teams open a three-game series in New York.
Braves: RHP Bryce Elder (1-0, 0.00 ERA) will face Cincinnati’s Graham Ashcraft (1-0, 1.29 ERA) on Monday night in the first of a three-game home series.
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