Pittsburgh (44-48) at Atlanta (49-45)

Haze Currently: Atlanta, GA
Temp: 66° F
  • Game info: 1:05 pm EDT Thu Jul 22, 2004
  • TV: TBS
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Russ Ortiz looks to win his sixth straight start as the Atlanta Braves complete a two-game series with the Pittsburgh Pirates at Turner Field.

Ortiz has been a steady force in the Braves’ rotation, leading the team with 11 victories and 123 1-3 innings. He stumbled a bit in June, going 0-2 with a 5.38 ERA in his first four outings, but has bounced back to win his last five starts while posting a 1.80 ERA.

After a shaky first inning against the Montreal Expos on Saturday, the 30-year-old right-hander settled down to retire 21 of the final 24 batters he faced as the Braves rallied for a 6-2 victory.

“I feel like every time I go out I need to make these guys feel that we’re going to have a really, really good shot at winning,” said Ortiz, who walked five and struck out six in 7 2-3 innings. “That’s the most important thing a starter has to do.”

Ortiz looks to help the Braves bounce back from Wednesday’s series-opening 4-3 loss, which dropped them one game behind first-place Philadelphia in the NL East. He has dominated Pittsburgh during his career, going 6-0 with a 3.35 ERA in nine appearances, including eight starts.

Tike Redman had a homer and three RBIs on Wednesday as the surging Pirates won for the 17th time in 22 games, moving within four games of .500. Redman has hit safely in 10 of his last 12 games, batting .341 (14-for-41) in that span.

Jose Mesa worked the ninth for his 27th save, but allowed J.D. Drew’s 23rd home run before shutting the door. Drew extended his career-high hitting streak to 18 games, batting .408 (29-for-71) with six homers and 15 RBIS during the stretch.

The Braves have dropped consecutive games for the first time since losing three straight from June 20-23. They are 17-7 since.

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Starting Pitchers

K. Wells SD vs. R. Ortiz LAD
5-7 Record 15-9
4.55 ERA 4.13
116 K 143
66 BB 112
1.53 WHIP 1.51