Ramirez pitched a three-hitter for his second career complete game and even helped out on offense, leading the Braves past the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-1 Thursday night.
The left-hander turned in the second standout performance of the series, though he didn’t quite match Randy Johnson’s effort two nights earlier for Arizona. The Big Unit pitched the 17th perfect game in major league history.
The Braves just needed a win—not perfection. They avoided a sweep and snapped a three-game losing streak, but remain three games under .500.
“It was big,” Ramirez said. “Hopefully, better things are coming for us in the future.”
Ramirez (2-3) went 17 consecutive innings without giving up a run until Robby Hammock, who grew up in Georgia, homered leading off the eighth to ruin the shutout bid.
“All his pitches are working,” Braves catcher Eddie Perez said. “I’m not mad at him when he shakes me off because everything is working. He’s pitching good and hopefully he can pitch like that the rest of the year.”
In his previous start, Ramirez pitched eight sharp innings for a 2-0 victory at Milwaukee.
Maybe he figures that’s the only way he can win. A lack of run support kept Ramirez winless through his first six starts, even though his ERA was 2.75.
“The urge is there to try to do more when you don’t get a win,” he said. “But you’ve got to be realistic. I’m throwing the ball well. There’s not much to pick apart.”
His ERA is now down to 2.04—third best in the National League.
“It’s May,” Ramirez said with a shrug. “If it’s still that low in September, maybe I’ll have something to shout about. The biggest thing is to be consistent. The good ones are consistent. The good ones find a way to get it done. I’m trying to be good.”
His other complete game was a four-hitter on July 7, 2003, against the New York Mets.
Ramirez didn’t just shine on the mound. He singled to left in his first at-bat, setting up Jesse Garcia’s run-scoring groundout. The next time up, Ramirez singled up the middle and got just the third RBI of his career when Nick Green hustled all the way around from first.
“I got lucky,” Ramirez said. “I just close my eyes and hope the ball goes somewhere.”
The Braves, who have struggled to score runs, jumped on Casey Fossum (0-1) right away. With two outs in the first, Chipper Jones walked, Andruw Jones doubled and Drew brought them both home with a triple to the gap in right-center.
The 45-year-old Franco homered to make it 5-0 in the fifth. On Wednesday, he broke his own record for oldest pinch-hitter to come through with a homer. This was his first homer of the season as a starter.
“We pitched Franco as bad as you could in this series,” Arizona manager Bob Brenly said.
Fossum lasted only four innings, giving up seven hits and five runs. It was his second start of the season after shoulder surgery in September.
“They came out aggressively and Casey had a problem getting the ball down,” Brenly said.
Even Ramirez got in the act.
“I just couldn’t get the pitcher out,” Fossum said. “He killed me,too.”
Andruw Jones had reached base six straight times until a third-inning groundout. … Atlanta 3B Mark DeRosa is mired in an 0-for-16 slump, dropping his average to .191. … Hammock’s homer drew big cheers from a small contingent in the crowd. He was born in Macon, about 80 miles south of Atlanta, and went to high school in suburban Cobb County. “I enjoyed it, but it was meaningless,” Hammock said. … The Braves have scored 28 runs in Ramirez’s eight starts (3.5 per game). … Alex Cintron and Danny Bautista had the other Arizona hits. … Arizona’s Luis Gonzalez went 0-for-4, leaving him with 1,999 career hits. … The game took only 2 hours, 11 minutes—Atlanta’s shortestgame of the year.