ATLANTA — The Atlanta Braves, who opened the season with a 2-6 road trip, are definitely enjoying finally getting to play at their new ballpark.
Bartolo Colon was masterful for seven innings, with the only hit the 43-year-old gave up a homer, and the Braves improved to 3-0 at SunTrust Park with a 9-2 victory over the San Diego Padres on Sunday.
Ryan Schimpf’s homer in the third inning was the only misstep by Colon, who walked one and struck out six while pitching in the 44th ballpark of his 20-year major league career.
“As soon as I give up a hit or a home run, I immediately try to get it out of my mind because I can’t be focused on that mistake,” said Colon through a translator. “I have to focus on the other hitters who are capable of getting hits and home runs, too.”
The victory was Colon’s 234th — the most among active major leaguers and it moved him within nine of Hall of Famer Juan Marichal for the most by a Dominican-born pitcher.
“We were way more passive early in the count than we usually are and took too many fastballs,” Padres manager Andy Green said. “Once you let Bartolo get deep in the count, he starts pitches that look like strikes that really aren’t. He becomes more affective the more strikes you give him.”
Colon (1-1) pitched well in his first start for the Braves although he got a no-decision against his most recent former team the New York Mets, but struggled in his second start at Miami.
“Even if I get roughed up on the previous start I’m not going to let it affect me,” Colon said. “I’m just going to go about my preparations like I usually do.”
“That’s one guy that’s not going to die from a heart attack from stress. Nothing bothers him,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “Everything is the same. It’s refreshing to watch. I love being around the guy.”
The Braves didn’t have a hit off Padres starter Trevor Cahill until the fifth but scored two runs in that inning, two more times in the sixth and seventh and three times in the eighth.
Brandon Phillips, who finished 3-for-4 with three RBIs, and Tyler Flowers had two-run singles off Cahill, and Ender Inciarte hit his fourth homer — one more than the center fielder had all last season — as the Padres’ bullpen faltered.
The only Padres hitter that Colon didn’t retire in his third start for the Braves was Schimpf, who also walked. On his homer, the left-handed batter extended his arms and smacked a 2-2 fastball from that was up and away into the center field seats for his third homer with one out in the second inning.
Cahill, who was activated Sunday from the 10-day disabled list after missing one start with a lower back strain, hadn’t allowed a hit and had faced the minimum number of batters thanks to a double play until the Braves (5-6) broke through in the fifth.
Phillips lined a single past diving third baseman Schimpf with one out for the first hit and swiped second. A walk to Adonis Garcia and two wild pitches followed before Flowers delivered two runs with a single.
Phillips’ two-run single with two outs in the sixth chased a tiring Cahill, who had given up a leadoff hit to Inciarte off shortstop Erick Aybar’s glove before a one-out intentional walk to Freddie Freeman and a second runner-advancing groundout.
Cahill (0-2) surrendered four hits, walked three and struck out eight.
“I was just trying to match Bartolo out there,” Cahill said. “They got to me in the later innings, but I felt good. … I was one pitch away a couple of times (in the fifth and sixth) and maybe tried too hard to put (the hitter) away instead of just making a good pitch.”
“I thought he had the stuff to pitch seven scoreless innings. He just made two really bad pitch selections,” Green said.
The Braves scored on a balk in the seventh before Inciarte smashed a homer over the right-field fence.
The Padres (5-8) scored an unearned run in the eighth, but the Braves scored three times in the bottom of the inning as Nick Markakis had an RBI double and pinch hitter Johan Camargo drove in a run with his first major league hit.
“I’ve always tried to pitch relaxed and be in a good place when it’s my turn,” Colon said. “Like I tell everybody, the day it’s my turn to pitch is the happiest day of the week for me. I love it.”
NOTES: Braves C Tyler Flowers left the game for a pinch runner after a two-run double in seventh inning and is listed as day-to-day with a strained right hamstring. … Padres LF Travis Jankowski made a leaping catch to deprive LF Jack Peterson of a potential homer in the seventh inning. … After two sellouts, the Braves drew 37,147 for their third game at SunTrust Park. … RHP Kevin Quackenbush was optioned back to Triple-A El Paso on Sunday after one relief appearance when RHP Trevor Cahill was activated from the 10-day disabled list to start against the Braves. … Padres RHP Jered Weaver (0-1, 4.91 ERA) faces the Braves for the first time as San Diego tries to avoid a sweep in the finale of the four-game series Monday. During his 11 seasons with the Angels, he pitched against all the other 29 major league teams. … LHP Jamie Garcia (0-1, 5.73 ERA) will try to end a winless streak of eight starts dating to last year with St. Louis as he faces the Padres in his third outing for the Braves. He is 0-6 with a 7.60 ERA during the stretch.