The last time Russ Ortiz was on the mound for San Francisco, he was on the verge of winning a World Series title. Now, he’s just wants to prove he still belongs in the majors.
Ortiz hopes to begin reviving his career Saturday when the Giants (1-3) continue their three-game series with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
While with the Giants, the right-hander left Game 6 of the 2002 World Series with one out in the seventh inning and a 5-0 lead over the Angels after giving up back-to-back singles. But the bullpen faltered and the Angels won 6-5 before winning Game 7 the next day by a 4-1 score.
“That was almost the greatest feeling you could have as a player,” Ortiz said. “I still think about how it would have felt if we had won it.”
Ortiz was 36-16 and won two NL East titles with Atlanta over the next two seasons, including a career-best 21 victories in 2003. After signing a $33 million, four-year contract with Arizona in 2004, he was 5-11 in 2005 and 0-5 last season before being released.
Ortiz was picked up by Baltimore and went 0-3 with an 8.48 ERA in 20 appearances, including five starts, with the Orioles. Pitching coach Leo Mazzone, who also worked with him in Atlanta, helped fix the way he was bringing the ball out of the glove, giving him more arm speed.
San Francisco signed him in January, and he earned a spot as the Giants’ fifth starter.
“I wasn’t going to accept the fact that I lost it,” Ortiz said. “It wasn’t my focus to say, ‘I told you so.’ But it was a situation where I wanted to be able to say, ‘I still had it.’ I knew I had a lot left in me.”
Ortiz is 8-8 with a 5.05 ERA in 20 career appearances, including 19 starts, against the Dodgers. However, he has dropped his last two starts against them, giving up nine runs in five total innings.
Ortiz will face Derek Lowe, who will be looking to bounce back from a shaky season debut with Los Angeles (2-2). The veteran right-hander gave up six runs and walked five batters in four innings of Monday’s opening-day 7-1 loss to Milwaukee.
Lowe, who went 16-8 with a 3.63 ERA last season and won his final seven decisions, is 2-1 with a 1.57 ERA in three career starts at AT&T Park. He’s 2-4 with a 3.91 ERA in seven career starts against the Giants.
“We’ve got staying power,” Kent said. “We can stay in games and find ways to win. This is a solid ballclub. And we haven’t even started to hit, and (injured shortstop Rafael) Furcal hasn’t played yet.”
Omar Vizquel drove in Rich Aurilia on a groundout for the Giants’ lone run. Barry Bonds, who hit his 735th career homer on Wednesday to move within 20 of Hank Aaron’s all-time record, went 0-for-3 and is scheduled to take Saturday off.
The Giants have dropped six straight games against the Dodgers, all in San Francisco.