Atlanta (73-78) at Washington (66-85)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Washington, DC
Temp: 71° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Wed Sep 20, 2006
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Even with Chipper Jones back in their lineup, the Atlanta Braves’ playoff chances are looking bleak at best.

The Braves try for a second straight series victory Wednesday when they wrap up a three-game set with the Washington Nationals at RFK Stadium.

Jones played for the first time since Sept. 3 on Tuesday, going 1-for-3 with a single in Atlanta’s 9-2 loss. He had been on the disabled list with a strained left oblique muscle—his third trip to the DL this season.

The 34-year-old third baseman is batting .318 with 23 homers and 79 RBIs in 102 games this season. Braves manager Bobby Cox decided against caution and immediately inserted him into the lineup with his team’s playoff hopes rapidly dwindling.

“We don’t have that much to lose the rest of the season,” Cox said. “He may get hot and not have any setbacks.”

With 11 games remaining, Atlanta is six behind wild-card leading Los Angeles. The Braves had won an unprecedented 14 straight division titles coming into this season, but the New York Mets clinched the NL East on Monday.

Jones wonders what might have been if he had not missed so much time this season.

“I feel like I would have had an impact in a handful of those games and we would be in a better situation than we are right now,” he said.

Tuesday’s loss ended a three-game winning streak for the Braves (73-78), who took two of three from Florida coming into this series. Atlanta needs eight more wins to finish the season at the .500 mark.

Washington’s Beltran Perez held the Braves to just one hit in six innings in his first major league start. Nick Johnson and Jose Vidro each homered for the Nationals (66-85), who have won five of eight.

Alfonso Soriano, who already has 40 steals and 45 homers, hit his 39th double.

Ramon Ortiz (10-14, 5.30 ERA) will start the series finale for Washington. He allowed five runs and two homers in five innings of Friday’s 5-2 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers.

“Everything I threw, they hit it,” Ortiz said. “It’s a crazy game. Tonight, I felt good. I threw good pitches.”

Ortiz has allowed 12 runs in 11 1-3 innings in consecutive losses since taking a no-hitter into the ninth inning in a 4-1 win over St. Louis on Sept. 4. He is 1-4 with a 8.10 ERA in seven career starts against the Braves—his second-highest ERA against any team.

In four starts against Atlanta this season, the right-hander is 1-2 with a 7.54 ERA.

The Braves counter with Lance Cormier (3-5, 5.23), who allowed six runs— four earned—and six hits in two innings of Friday’s 6-4 loss to the Florida Marlins—his shortest start of the season. Cormier, who has also made 20 relief appearances, has gone 1-4 with a 4.71 ERA in seven starts this year.

The left-hander is 2-3 with a 9.00 ERA in seven career appearances, including two starts, against the Nationals.

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Starting Pitchers

L. Cormier TB vs. R. Ortiz Tor
4-5 Record 11-16
4.89 ERA 5.57
43 K 104
39 BB 64
1.75 WHIP 1.54


Wednesday, Sep 20