On Sunday, Ortiz gave up five runs—one earned—and six hits over five innings in an 8-4 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The loss was his first since June 13, and put an end to his eight-game winning streak.
Ortiz allowed four runs in the first inning, but all of them were unearned thanks to a Marcus Giles error. Nonetheless, Ortiz, who threw 118 pitches before he was pulled, said he didn’t have his best stuff.
“It just wasn’t a quality-pitched game,” he said. “I just couldn’t get ahead and stay ahead. It doesn’t help anybody behind you when you do that. It just wasn’t a quality pitched ballgame.”
Ortiz, who was acquired from the San Francisco Giants before the season, has become the anchor of Atlanta’s pitching staff this season after starters Tom Glavine, Kevin Millwood and Damian Moss departed in the offseason. Aside from Ortiz, the Braves’ staff has been largely inconsistent. Atlanta’s 4.30 ERA heading into Thursday was good for just ninth in the National League.
A win on Friday would tie Ortiz with Roy Halladay of the Toronto Blue Jays, who won his 16th Wednesday against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Oakland’s Mark Mulder also has 15 wins and starts against the Chicago White Sox on Friday.
The Braves come in off Thursday’s 7-1 win over the Milwaukee Brewers, their fourth victory in six games.
The Cardinals come in off Thursday’s 3-0 win over the Florida Marlins, which snapped a three-game losing streak.
Pujols joined Jose Canseco as the only players to have 30 homers and 100 RBIs in their first three seasons.
STANDINGS: Braves - 1st place, NL East. Cardinals - 3rd place, 2 GB, NL Central.
BRAVES PROBABLE STARTER: Ortiz (15-5, 3.52 ERA). Ortiz is 2-3 with a 4.75 ERA in eight career appearances, including seven starts, against St. Louis.
CARDINALS PROBABLE STARTER: Jeff Fassero (1-5, 5.74 ERA). Fassero gave up two earned runs and four hits over a season-high six innings last Friday but did not receive a decision in the Cardinals’ 8-2 win over the New York Mets. The left-hander, who is 0-1 with a 2.30 ERA in his three starts this season, is 3-7 with a 3.98 ERA in 28 career appearances, including nine starts, against Atlanta.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Braves - Gary Sheffield, .328 avg. and 88 RBIs; Javy Lopez, 30 HRs; Rafael Furcal, 94 runs and 18 SBs. Cardinals - Pujols, .372 avg., 30 HRs, 100 RBIs and 100 runs; Edgar Renteria, 25 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Braves, 3-0.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Braves - 1B Robert Fick’s fifth-inning sacrifice fly Thursday gave him a career-high 64 RBIs. … 3B Castilla’s triple in the second inning Thursday snapped an 0-for-9 slump. … RHP Ortiz is 5-2 with a 2.95 ERA in nine road starts this season. Cardinals - OF-C Eli Marrero, who has been out with torn ligaments in his right ankle since May 11, will begin his rehabilitation assignment Friday with Triple-A Memphis. He should rejoin the Cardinals sometime next week. … 1B-OF Pujols is 33-for-82 (.402) during his hitting streak and has raised his average to a major league-leading .372. He has three hitting streaks of 10 or more games this year and eight in his three-year career. … CF Jim Edmonds is 6-for-13 (.462) with a double, a homer, five RBIs and five strikeouts all-time against RHP Ortiz.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Braves - 35-22 on the road; Cardinals - 32-24 at home.
INJURIES: Braves - RHP Paul Byrd (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Trey Hodges (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Darren Holmes (shoulder), 15-day DL. Cardinals - C Joe Girardi (back), 15-day DL; C Steve Torrealba (elbow), 15-day DL; INF Fernando Vina (hamstring), 15-day DL; OF-C Marrero (ankle), 15-day DL; RHP Matt Morris (hand), 15-day DL; LHP Lance Painter (calf), 15-day DL; RHP Russ Springer (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Kiko Calero (foot), 60-day DL; RHP Chris Carpenter (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Gene Stechschulte (shoulder), 60-day DL.