Atlanta (49-27) at Tampa Bay (25-52)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: St. Petersburg, FL
Temp: 75° F
  • Game info: 7:15 pm EDT Fri Jun 27, 2003
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Atlanta Braves have not lost three games in a row since the first three games of the season.

Horacio Ramirez will look to keep it that way when the Braves meet the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the opener of a three-game interleague series at Tropicana Field.

The Braves, who opened the season with three losses to the Montreal Expos, are coming off consecutive defeats against the Philadelphia Phillies.

As Ramirez tries to help the Braves avoid a three-game losing streak, he’ll look to duplicate the effort he turned in on Saturday. Through seven innings of a 10-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles, he allowed one run and six hits while striking out seven.

Ramirez, the Braves’ fifth starter, said he is adjusting to waiting different periods of time between outings. He waited 10 days before his last start, but only six days this week.

“When they give me the ball, I do the best I can,” Ramirez said. “I’m not getting accustomed to it, but I’m making adjustments.”

Although they still have the best record in the National League, the Braves have lost three of their last four series. They were outscored 16-2 by the Phillies on Wednesday and Thursday, dropping each game 8-1.

Tampa Bay has lost three straight and eight of nine.

After the Devil Rays lost to the New York Yankees 4-3 on Thursday, manager Lou Piniella lashed out at pinch-hitter Ben Grieve, who struck out looking for the final out with the potential tying run on third.

Piniella said he asked Grieve why he took the pitch. The manager did not like the answer and showed his displeasure to everyone in the Tampa Bay dugout.

“He says, ‘I thought it was high,”’ Piniella said. “I said, ‘Why didn’t you say something?’ He said it doesn’t matter.

“I said, ‘What the hell do you mean it doesn’t matter?’ … It does matter. It matters to me, and it matters to a lot of damn people in this clubhouse. When it starts mattering to everybody, we’ll start winning more games around here.”

Atlanta lead the all-time series against Tampa Bay 9-3.

STANDINGS: Braves - 1st place, NL East. Devil Rays - 5th place, 22 GB, AL East.

BRAVES PROBABLE STARTER: Ramirez (6-2, 4.09 ERA). Ramirez has won five straight decisions. He has never faced the Devil Rays.

DEVIL RAYS PROBABLE STARTER: Jeremi Gonzalez (3-3, 3.12 ERA). Although he has lost two of his last three starts, Gonzalez has allowed no more than three earned runs in five consecutive starts. On Sunday, he worked seven innings, giving up three runs and two hits in a 3-2 loss to the Florida Marlins.

OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Braves - Gary Sheffield, .333 avg., 62 RBIs and 63 runs; Javy Lopez, 23 HRs; Rafael Furcal, 12 SBs. Devil Rays - Rocco Baldelli, .312 avg.; Aubrey Huff, 15 HRs, 43 RBIs and 44 runs; Carl Crawford, 18 SBs.

INTERLEAGUE RECORDS: Braves - RHP Roberto Hernandez, on the 15-day disabled list with a back injury since June 10, will be activated Friday. … RF Sheffield is 0-for-10 in his last three games. … Atlanta’s next win will be Bobby Cox’s 1,500th as Braves manager. His record with Atlanta is 1,499-1,139. Devil Rays - Tampa Bay designated LHP Mike Venafro for assignment and brought up RHP Carlos Reyes from Triple-A Durham. … Devil Rays are 4-19 in June. The team record for most losses in a month is 20 on three different occasions, most recently in May 2001. Tampa Bay has three games remaining this month. … CF Baldelli has hit safely in four of his last five games, but he is batting just .190 (4-for-21) in those games.

STREAKS AND NOTES: Braves - 8-4. Devil Rays - 2-13.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Braves - 22-15 on the road; Devil Rays - 14-24 at home.

INJURIES: Braves - RHP Paul Byrd (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Roberto Hernandez (back), 15-day DL. Devil Rays - SS Rey Ordonez (knee), 15-day DL; LHP Joe Kennedy (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Seth McClung (elbow), 60-day DL.

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Starting Pitchers

H. Ramírez LAA vs. G. Gonzalez Tor
12-4 Record 6-11
4.00 ERA 3.91
100 K 97
72 BB 69
1.39 WHIP 1.28