In his most recent outing, Millwood lost again to Ortiz, only this time Atlanta got a big win.
Now Millwood tries to avoid losing to Ortiz for the third straight time, making his first start in Atlanta since last year’s playoffs as his Philadelphia Phillies open a three-game set against the Braves.
Needing to dump salary this past offseason, Atlanta dealt Millwood to Philadelphia for minor-league catcher Johnny Estrada. That move came two months after Millwood lost the deciding Game 5 of the Braves’ NL division series to Ortiz and the San Francisco Giants, 3-1.
Ortiz, acquired shortly before Atlanta traded Millwood and not long after losing Tom Glavine to the New York Mets, also was the opponent on Wednesday for Millwood in his first game against his former team.
While Ortiz pitched six scoreless innings, Millwood was tagged for four runs and eight hits over five innings in a 6-1 defeat.
Phillies manager Larry Bowa thought Millwood was trying too hard to beat his former teammates.
“I’m sure, but I don’t know if he’ll admit it,” he said.
Bowa was exactly right.
“Once I got out there, it wasn’t a big deal,” Millwood said.
That loss is the only one Philadelphia has suffered in the last 10 days, having gone 5-1 with two postponements during that span. However, the Phillies have made only a small dent in Atlanta’s division lead, entering this series 8 1/2 games back.
The Braves dropped two of three to the Phillies—losing a second straight series to their division rivals—before winning two of three this past weekend against Baltimore. However, even that series ended on a bad note—a 9-3 loss Sunday.
STANDINGS: Phillies - 3rd place, 8 1/2 GB, NL East. Braves - 1st place, NL East.
PHILLIES PROBABLE STARTER: Millwood (8-5, 3.90 ERA). Millwood has been ripped for 12 runs and 19 hits in losing his last two outings, pitching just 8 1-3 innings. He has lost four of his last five starts, receiving a total of two runs of support in the four defeats. During his days with the Braves, Millwood went 40-27 with a 3.47 ERA at Turner Field.
BRAVES PROBABLE STARTER: Ortiz (8-4, 3.56 ERA). Ortiz has allowed only one earned run in his last 13 2-3 innings. However, he has struggled in his last four starts in Atlanta, going 1-1 with a 6.46 ERA, while walking 12 in 22 1-3 innings. Ortiz is 3-3 with a 3.63 ERA in 10 career starts against Philadelphia.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Phillies - Mike Lieberthal, .318 avg.; Jim Thome, 17 HRs and 51 RBIs; Bobby Abreu, 47 runs; Jimmy Rollins, 9 SBs. Braves - Gary Sheffield, .346 avg., 61 RBIs and 63 runs; Sheffield and Javy Lopez, 21 HRs; Rafael Furcal, 12 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Phillies, 5-4.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Phillies - RF Abreu, who homered in both games against Boston this weekend, has at least two hits in four of his last six games. … CF Marlon Byrd is batting .409 (18-for-44) in June after batting .193 (16-for-83) during the first two months of the season. … 2B Placido Polanco has five steals in his last 11 games. He had one in his first 45 games. Braves - 2B Marcus Giles is hitless in his last 22 at-bats. … CF Andruw Jones is in a 2-for-26 slump. … RF Sheffield’s 90 career RBIs against the Phillies, including seven this season, are his most against any opponent.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Phillies - 16-17 on the road; Braves - 26-10 at home.