When Russ Ortiz is locating his pitches, he knows he can be successful.
Ortiz, who won 21 games last season, pitched a five-hitter in a 6-1 win over the Expos on Wednesday. He retired the final 17 batters in his first complete game of the season and the eighth of his career.
“This is how I feel I can pitch every time out,” said Ortiz, who threw 90 of 129 pitches for strikes.
The 29-year-old right-hander improved to 5-2 over his last eight outings.
“My goal is to get strike one and make the guys swing at my pitches. It just doesn’t always work out that way,” Ortiz said. “Today was just getting ahead and staying ahead.”
It was Atlanta’s third complete game this season, and Ortiz’s second with the Braves.
“Russ was dynamite, wasn’t he?” Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said. “He had a good hook tonight, his curveball was one of those downers. He was cutting his fastball like crazy, great control.”
Atlanta returns home after going 4-3 on a seven-game road trip to Montreal and Philadelphia.
Travis Smith, who was called up late Saturday from Triple-A Richmond when Horacio Ramirez was placed on the 15-day disabled list, pitched six strong innings Sunday, but the Braves fell to the Phillies 4-1 in the finale of their four-game series.
Andruw Jones had an RBI triple to give Atlanta its only run.
The Expos had lost three straight before beating the Cincinnati Reds 6-2 on Sunday in the finale of their three-game series.