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Hot-hitting Diaz leads Braves past Padres
Atlanta Braves' Matt Diaz, right, celebrates his two-run home run against the San Diego Padres with Melky Cabrera (53) during the fourth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, July 20, 2010, at Turner Field in Atlanta. - photo by Associated Press

ATLANTA — Matt Diaz homered in his third straight game, Jair Jurrjens gave up only one run in seven innings, and the Atlanta Braves beat the San Diego Padres 4-1 on Tuesday night in a matchup of first-place teams.

Diaz drove in three runs with a two-run homer in the fourth and a run-scoring single in the seventh.

Jason Heyward had three hits, including two doubles, and drove in a run as the Braves expanded a 2-1 lead in the seventh.

Chris Denorfia hit a second-inning homer for the Padres, but Jurrjens (3-3) gave up only two hits over his last five innings.

Padres second baseman David Eckstein left the game with a right calf strain.

Billy Wagner pitched a perfect ninth for his 22nd save.

The Braves began the day 5½ games ahead of second-place New York in the NL East. The Braves (55-38) passed the NL West-leading Padres (54-38) for the best record in the National League.

Diaz has three homers and eight RBIs in his last three games. He was slowed the first two months of the season by an infection in his right thumb. He finally had surgery on May 20 and came off the disabled list on June 29.

Diaz has four homers this season, all in the last two weeks.

Jurrjens gave up five hits, struck out seven and walked three.

Wade LeBlanc (4-8) gave up two runs, five hits and four walks in six innings. The Braves added two runs off Ryan Webb in the seventh.

Braves bench coach Chino Cadahia filled in as manager Bobby Cox served a one-game suspension imposed on Monday. Cox drew the suspension after left-hander Jonny Venters hit Milwaukee's Prince Fielder with a pitch on Saturday.

Venters, appealing his four-game suspension, took over for Jurrjens and retired the Padres in order in the eighth.

Eckstein was apparently injured when he was thrown out at the plate while trying to score from second base on Nick Hundley's single to center in the first inning. Melky Cabrera's throw to catcher Brian McCann beat the sliding Eckstein to the plate.

Everth Cabrera replaced Eckstein in the second inning and played shortstop. Jerry Hairston moved from shortstop to second.

There was no immediate word on the severity of the injury.

NOTES: 3B Chipper Jones was out of the Braves' lineup for the third straight game with a mild left hamstring strain. Jones popped out as a pinch-hitter in the eighth. ... Venters' appeal of his four-game suspension will be heard on July 27 in Washington. ... Cabrera, in the fifth, and Hairston, in the seventh, were thrown out by McCann trying to steal second base.