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Cruz oldest to hit 30 HRs in year

Tampa Bay Rays’ Nelson Cruz hits a two-run home run against the Boston Red Sox during the third inning of a baseball game on Sept. 7, 2021 (September 8 in Manila) at Fenway Park in Boston. AP PHOTO


Nelson Cruz homered twice and, at 41 years old, became the oldest player in major league history to hit 30 home runs in a season, powering the Tampa Bay Rays past the Boston Red Sox, 12-7, on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila).

Mike Zunino also homered twice and Jordan Luplow connected for the team with the best record in the American League and the highest-scoring club in the majors.

Rays rookie Wander Franco went 0 for 4 with a walk, extending his on-base streak to 37 games and passing Mickey Mantle (1951-52) for the longest by an AL player under 21 years old. The 20-year-old Franco now trails only Frank Robinson, who reached 43 straight in 1956.

The Rays won their seventh straight road game and increased their AL East lead to 9 1/2 games over New York.

Cruz hit a two-run homer in the third inning and a solo drive in the fifth, giving him 447 in his career and his eighth 30-homer season. He passed David Ortiz (38 in 2016) and Darrell Evans (34 in 1987), who were both 40 when they hit the mark.

Cruz also doubled and singled, driving in four runs and scoring three.

Boston’s Bobby Dalbec hit a pair of two-run homers. Danny Santana also homered for the Red Sox.

Drew Rasmussen (2-1) got the win, going five innings, allowing one run on six hits with no walks and two strikeouts.

Eduardo Rodriguez (11-8) lasted just 3 2/3 innings, matching season highs with six runs and two home runs allowed.

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