Atlanta (29-23) at Washington (27-26)

  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Thu Jun 2, 2005
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Esteban Loaiza is looking for a little help from his teammates as the Washington Nationals face the Atlanta Braves in the finale of a four-game set at RFK Stadium.

With 1.9 runs per game, Loaiza is getting the worst support of any starter in the major leagues.

“Hey, what are you going to do,” Loaiza said after allowing three runs and eight hits in six innings in Saturday’s 3-1 loss at St. Louis. “They’re having trouble scoring runs, but they’re battling.”

Loaiza has eight quality starts this season and only one win to show for it, but is refusing to blame his teammates.

“He shows a little fire, at the right times and the right places,” manager Frank Robinson said. “But he’s not letting it bother him. Before the ballgames, he’s fine. After it, he’s fine. In between starts, he’s fine. And that’s the way it should be. Pitchers can’t control the offense.”

The veteran right-hander, who is 3-2 with a 4.41 ERA all-time against Atlanta, will be making his second start against the Braves this season. He pitched seven strong innings and did not get a decision in a 4-3 win at Atlanta on April 12.

The Braves came back for a 5-4 win over the Nationals on Wednesday, as Wilson Betemit hit a tying two-run homer and Marcus Giles capped the rally with an RBI single in the eighth inning.

Betemit played because shortstop Rafael Furcal was a last-minute scratch with a sore right shoulder. Braves manager Bobby Cox said he didn’t think Furcal, who had started every game this season, will play Thursday.

Atlanta, which had dropped four of five games, will send a struggling Horacio Ramirez to the hill on Thursday.

The left-hander has given up seven runs in two of his past three starts, lasting four innings in an 8-4 defeat at San Diego on May 18 and 3 2-3 innings of a 12-5 home loss to Philadelphia on Saturday.

He pitched well against the Nationals in Washington on April 20, but lost 2-0. He worked seven innings, giving up both runs while allowing six hits and three walks.

Ramirez is 2-3 with a 3.05 ERA in six career starts against the Nationals and Montreal Expos.

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Starting Pitchers

H. Ramirez CHC vs. E. Loaiza CWS
11-9 Record 12-10
4.63 ERA 3.77
80 K 173
67 BB 55
1.39 WHIP 1.30