ATLANTA (AP)—A 21-game winner in 2003, Russ Ortiz lost his first two games this year by lopsided margins.
“Every game I feel like I’m going to pitch like that,” he said. “The key is to take what I do in the bullpen out to the mound and not to do anything extra. I feel my stuff is good enough. I don’t need to do anything extra.”
Ortiz (1-2) gave up one run and six hits in 6 2-3 innings, lowering his ERA from 6.75 to 4.50. He didn’t walk a batter for the first time in 26 starts since last May 18.
“It makes it easier for me to throw when you are ahead of batters,” Ortiz said.
Chipper Jones hit a two-run homer in the first inning—the first allowed by Beckett this season.
“That was huge,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said. “Any time you can get two runs real quick off a guy like Beckett, you’re on the plus side. He’s really tough, but Russ was tougher tonight.”
Jesse Garcia added his first homer in more than four years, helping Atlanta move back over .500 at 6-5.
Garcia, filling in for the injured Rafael Furcal at shortstop, hit a solo homer on an 0-2 pitch in the seventh inning after the Marlins had closed to 2-1. It was the third home run of his career and first in 126 at-bats since connecting for Baltimore on Sept. 30, 1999, against the New Yankees’ Jeff Nelson.
“It’s the first one in the National League, so it feels good,” Garcia said. “Don’t expect too many of those, especially in the left-center gap.”
Florida arrived in Atlanta with the best record in the major leagues (8-1) and a seven-game winning streak but has lost the first two games of the three-game series.
Beckett (1-1) entered with a 0.64 ERA that soared to 2.21.
“We lost, and I was the reason,” he said. “I couldn’t make good pitches when I needed to, and when I did, they hit them.”
Beckett’s fastball was recorded at as much as 102 mph and he struck out seven, but he allowed four runs and eight hits in 6 1-3 innings.
“When he made a mistake with his fastball, our guys hit it and hit it hard,” Jones said. “He’s got such great offspeed stuff … you can look for a fastball and when you get it, don’t miss it.”
Beckett gave up a double to Mark DeRosa leading off the first and Jones’ third homer of the season.
Beckett allowed only three hits after Jones’ homer, including two by Ortiz, over the next five innings.
“He had such an unbelievable curveball, I just threw my bat at it,” said Ortiz, whose previous multihit game was last April 27 against Milwaukee.
Braves right fielder Eli Marrero threw out Mike Lowell at the plate trying to score on Ramon Castro’s two-out single in the second. Lowell appeared to reach the plate with his left hand under the tag of catcher Johnny Estrada, but Marlins manager Jack McKeon’s argument failed to persuade plate umpire Bill Miller.
“I thought I got his hand,” Estrada said.
Hee Seop Choi cut the lead to 2-1 in the seventh when he scored from third on a wild pitch by Gryboski.
Beckett, who allowed only one earned run in his first two starts of the season, was lifted after giving up a run-scoring single to Marcus Giles in theseventh. Giles drove in Dewayne Wise, who pinch hit and tripled.
Abraham Nunez started for the slumping Jeff Conine in left field, but McKeon said Conine likely would return to the lineup Sunday. … Furcal (strained lower back) was out of the lineup for the seventh straight game but is close to returning. Atlanta RF J.D. Drew was held out for the fourth straight game with a mild hamstring injury. … Braves C Johnny Estrada has not thrown out a runner in seven stolen-base attempts. Choi got his first steal of the season and second of his career. … Beckett had given up only two earnedruns in 19 career innings at Turner Field (0.95 ERA) coming in.