Braves 6, Phillies 4
ATLANTA (AP)—For Russ Ortiz, it was another routine performance.
Same for Kevin Millwood.
Ortiz bounced back from his usual shaky start to earn his career-high 19th win, Millwood got pounded again by his former team and the Atlanta Braves hurt Philadelphia’s playoff drive by rallying for a 6-4 victory Monday.
The Phillies’ six-game winning streak was snapped and they dropped into a tie in the NL wild-card race with Florida, which defeated the New York Mets 5-0.
Ortiz (19-6) gave up four runs in the top of the first, then pitched five scoreless innings while the Braves matched their biggest comeback of the season against Millwood.
“I just kept throwing and trusting it would come back,” said Ortiz, who has given up more runs in the first (26) than any other inning. “When it did, I felt a lot more confident.”
Millwood (14-10), traded from Atlanta to Philadelphia during the winter, has lost all three starts against the Braves this season, his ERA in those games rising to 7.00 after he gave up nine hits and five runs in six innings.
“They’re a good team,” Millwood said. “I don’t think we’re any less confident against them than anybody else. I just have to go out there and make my pitches.”
The Braves have dominated two of their ex-pitchers, going 4-0 against Tom Glavine of the New York Mets.
“Our guys have seen them so much, we know what they’re about,” DeRosa said. “They’re not going to trick anybody.”
Ortiz, who has four more wins than anyone in the NL, was 18-9 with San Francisco in 1999. He’ll get three or four more starts this season, needing just one more victory for the first 20-win season of his career.
He won’t think about personal accomplishments until the season is over.
“If I give us a chance to win the rest of the time and I don’t get any more wins, I wouldn’t be upset about how the year has gone,” Ortiz said.
Ortiz was constantly behind in the count, throwing just 51 of 110 pitches for strikes. He walked four to take over the NL lead in that category from Chicago’s Kerry Wood with 93 for the season.
But Ortiz allowed only three hits in six innings and cruised after the Phillies left the bases loaded in the second. Philadelphia had only two more baserunners against Ortiz—one on a hit batter, the other on a walk.
“I don’t really care about the walks,” Ortiz said. “I’ve walked a lot of guys every year. You see what happens when you throw a pitch over the middle of the plate. They hit a home run.”
Mike Lieberthal’s three-run homer capped the first, but Ortiz and three relievers shut down Philadelphia the rest of the way for a four-hitter.
Will Cunnane pitched the ninth for the second save of his career—and the last two days. The 29-year-old journeyman, who got the last out with runners on first and third, is filling in as the closer for John Smoltz, expected to be on the disabled list for another week with a sore elbow.
“I’m not used to the having the crowd standing up when I’m on the mound,” Cunnane said. “I was trying to throw it a hundred and instead threw it 80. Note to self: Don’t let the crowd dictate your pitches.”
Imagine if the crowd had been bigger. The attendance was only 17,543, the smallest crowd in Turner Field’s seven-year history.
Ortiz’s wildness cost him in the first. Rollins walked with one out, stole second and trotted home on Bobby Abreu’s double into the right-field corner. Jim Thome walked and Lieberthal drove a 2-0 fastball deep into the left-field seats for his ninth homer.
Abreu and Lieberthal are always troublesome for Ortiz. Abreu’s batting .444 (12-for-27) in his career against the Atlanta starter, while Lieberthal boosted his average to .400 (8-for-20).
Lieberthal is hitting well against anyone wearing a Braves uniform: .459 with two homers and 11 RBIs this season.
It wasn’t enough. Chipper Jones had a two-out, run-scoring double in the third to pull the Braves within 4-3, and Rafael Furcal tied it with an RBI single in the fourth. The Phillies managed to stay even when slow-running Vinny Castilla, also trying to score on Furcal’s hit, was thrown out at home by leftfielder Ricky Ledee.
The Braves had another runner thrown out at home in the eighth. After Castilla hit an RBI single, a throw to third skipped away from Tomas Perez. He recovered in time to throw out pinch-runner Ryan Langerhans at the plate. … The previous low crowd at Turner Field was 18,108 for a May 6 game againstColorado. … The Braves had come from four runs down in two other games.