Braves 7, Padres 4

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ATLANTA (AP)—Russ Ortiz doesn’t want to think about 20 wins. Not yet, anyway.

Ortiz pitched seven strong innings to become the first 17-game winner in the majors and Atlanta Braves, getting two more homers from Javy Lopez, defeated the San Diego Padres 7-4 Thursday night.

Keeping with the theme for this Braves team, Gary Sheffield and Chipper Jones also homered. Atlanta has 18 homers in its last eight games and 182 for the season, on pace to shatter the franchise record of 215.

Ortiz (17-5) is one shy of his career high for wins, but he insists that he’s not thinking about individual achievements. Sure, 20 wins is a distinct possibility. Still, he doesn’t want to let his mind drift that far ahead.

“For me, it doesn’t work to look three starts ahead instead of my next start,” he said. “There’s always been a part of me that’s not into my next start. I learned a long time ago that I can’t look ahead.”

Sheffield’s homer extended his hitting streak to 18 games, tying his career high. Jones homered for the third game in a row—all since his father, a former college coach, came to town to provide a few hitting tips for his slumping son.

“We’ve got to keep bringing him in,” manager Bobby Cox said. “Put him on the payroll.”

Ortiz allowed just five hits in seven-plus innings for his 10th win in 11 starts. He helped himself at the plate, too, capping a three-run sixth with an RBI single that gave the Braves a 5-1 lead.

“The biggest thing I’m happy about is giving these guys a chance to win every time out,” Ortiz said. “I take a lot of pride in that. And they’re doing a great job of scoring runs and playing defense. If not, my numbers wouldn’t be where they’re at.”

Lopez put the Braves ahead to stay in the second with a drive into the left-field seats off Jake Peavy (9-9). The Atlanta catcher went the opposite way in the eighth, hitting his team-leading 33rd homer against Jaret Wright.

Lopez has eight two-homer games this season, tying Andres Galarraga’s team record set in 1998.

“Oh really? I didn’t know that,” Lopez said. “I really don’t try. It just seems to happen.”

Ortiz surrendered a second-inning homer to Rondell White but little else until the eighth, when the first two hitters reached base. Ray King allowed them both to score, and Kevin Gryboski gave up a run-scoring single that made it 6-4.

But John Smoltz, pitching for the first time since allowing a game-deciding homer to St. Louis’ Albert Pujols on Sunday, got the final four outs for his 43rd save in 46 chances.

The last-place Padres won the opener of the series 14-4, tying a franchise record with 24 hits. They managed only 13 hits over the final two games, losing both to the NL East-leading Braves.

“We didn’t do much with Ortiz,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “We fought back, got the winning run up. But against Smoltz, that’s a tough task.”

Sheffield led off the sixth with a drive into the left-field stands for his 30th homer, tying the 18-game hitting streak he had in 1992 on the way to winning the NL batting title with the Padres. It’s the sixth 30-homer season of his career.

White homered in the second, but the Braves quickly erased the deficit in the bottom half. Jones led off with a nice piece of hitting, going the opposite way on a breaking ball over the outer half of the plate and driving the ball 410 feet into the left-field seats. His dad must have been proud.

Peavy surrendered only four hits in 5 1-3 innings, but three of them were homers. He lost for the fourth time in five decisions.

Ortiz got help from his defense in the first. Second baseman Marcus Giles made a backhanded grab on a grounder in the grass behind the bag, wheeled around and made an off-balance throw that got Mark Kotsay by less than a half-step at first.

Notes

The Braves announced that RHP Matt Belisle would go to Cincinnati as the player to be named in the trade that brought Kent Mercker to the Braves on Tuesday. Belisle had spent most of the season at Double-A Greenville, going 6-8 with a 3.52 ERA in 21 starts. He will report to the Reds’ Triple-A team at Louisville. … San Diego 3B Sean Burroughs missed his second straight game with a sore right ankle. He was struck by a pitch on Tuesday and could miss up to five games. … The Padres signed their first-round draft pick, RHP Tim Stauffer. He went 9-5 with 10 complete games and a 1.97 ERA for the University of Richmond, setting school records with 146 strikeouts this season and 362 in his career. … Padres 2B Mark Loretta extended his hitting to a season-high 12 games. … RF Phil Nevin had an embarrassing moment in the fifth, dropping Rafael Furcal’s fly ball at the edge of the warning track for a three-baseerror. … The Braves won the season series 6-1.

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