Atlanta (83-46) at Colorado (64-68)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Denver, CO
Temp: 48° F
  • Game info: 3:05 pm EDT Sun Aug 24, 2003
  • TV: TBS, KTVD
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Russ Ortiz will try to become the major leagues’ first 18-game winner when the Atlanta Braves meet the Colorado Rockies in the finale of their three-game series at Coors Field.

Ortiz, acquired in an offseason trade with the San Francisco Giants, has emerged as the Braves’ staff ace this season. He has not allowed more than three earned runs in any of his last eight starts, going 6-1 with a 3.48 ERA in that span.

Against the NL West-leading San Francisco Giants on Tuesday, the 29-year-old right-hander allowed three runs and six hits over seven innings, but didn’t get a decision as the Braves went on to lose 5-4.

The Braves will look for another strong effort from Ortiz as they try to complete a three-game sweep of the Rockies.

Mike Hampton was impressive over 6 2-3 innings on Saturday, and Gary Sheffield had a three-run double, leading Atlanta to a 5-4 win. The Braves have scored 14 runs in two games against Colorado, matching their total from the previous five games combined.

Rockies left fielder Jay Payton homered and drove in two runs on Saturday for Colorado, which has lost just four of its 21 home series this season.

The Rockies came into this series fresh off sweeping three straight from the wild card-hopeful Florida Marlins.

STANDINGS: Braves - 1st place, NL East. Rockies - 4th place, 16 GB, NL West.

BRAVES PROBABLE STARTER: Ortiz (17-5, 3.49 ERA). Ortiz is 8-3 with a 3.39 ERA in 15 career games against Colorado.

ROCKIES PROBABLE STARTER: Denny Stark (2-1, 5.44 ERA). Stark had perhaps his best start of the season on Tuesday, allowing just one run and four hits over seven innings in a 10-2 rout of Florida. The 28-year-old right-hander had allowed 21 earned runs over his previous 19 2-3 innings, spanning four starts. Stark is 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA in two career games against Atlanta.

OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Braves - Sheffield, .333 avg., 102 RBIs and 104 runs; Javy Lopez, 34 HRs; Rafael Furcal, 22 SBs. Rockies - Todd Helton, .358 avg. and 116 runs; Preston Wilson, 31 HRs, 121 RBIs and 9 SBs.

SEASON SERIES: Braves, 5-0.

STREAKS AND NOTES: Braves - C Lopez returned on Saturday after missing two games with a bruised left shin. … 1B Robert Fick is 2-for-15 (.133) in his last five games. … RHP John Smoltz struck out the side in the ninth on Saturday for his 44th save in 47 chances. Rockies - RF Larry Walker is batting .207 (6-for-29) with eight strikeouts in his career against RHP Ortiz. … C Charles Johnson has 16 homers, one shy of the single-season club record for catchers. Jeff Reed hit 17 in 1997. … 1B Helton is batting .417 (30-for-72) in August.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Braves - 38-27 on the road; Rockies - 44-21 at home.

INJURIES: Braves - 1B Julio Franco (finger), 15-day DL; RHP Paul Byrd (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Roberto Hernandez (hamstring), 15-day DL; RHP Darren Holmes (shoulder), 15-day DL. Rockies - C Bobby Estalella (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Shawn Chacon (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Nelson Cruz (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Denny Neagle (elbow), 15-day DL; OF Chris Richard (shoulder), 60-day DL.

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Starting Pitchers

R. Ortiz LAD vs. D. Stark Sea
21-7 Record 3-3
3.81 ERA 5.83
149 K 30
102 BB 33
1.31 WHIP 1.67