Braves 6, Expos 2
ATLANTA (AP)—After the Braves rallied to tie the score, Adam LaRoche had no doubts about the outcome.
“It’s just a feeling in the dugout that we’re going to win,” the rookie first baseman said.
LaRoche and J.D. Drew had solo shots for the Braves, who won for the 14th time in 18 games and stayed one game behind Philadelphia in the NL East.
Ortiz (11-6) won his fifth straight start and improved to 4-0 this season against the Expos. He allowed only one hit—an RBI single by Carl Everett in the first—and pitched around five walks in 7 2-3 innings. Ortiz was charged with two runs, increasing his ERA against Montreal from 1.17 to 1.48.
“I feel like every time I go out I need to make these guys feel that we’re going to have a really, really good shot at winning,” Ortiz said. “That’s the most important thing a starter has to do.”
John Smoltz got four outs for his 17th save in 19 chances.
It was the first home run since May 2 for Giles—he missed 52 games with a broken collarbone, and returned after the All-Star break.
“I think that’s the first inside fastball I’ve gotten to since I’ve been back,” said Giles, who said his homer drought was the longest since he was a 13-year-old in Pony League. “But I’ve been seeing the ball pretty good.”
Armas took a 2-1 lead into the sixth despite five walks of his own, then gave up a one-out home run to LaRoche. The solo shot was LaRoche’s second since May 7.
Andruw Jones followed with a double down the left-field line, then moved to third on an infield single by Charles Thomas. With one out, Ortiz missed on a squeeze bunt attempt, and Jones was out easily after a brief rundown.
The threat ended when Ortiz flied out to left.
“I’m disappointed I gave up so many walks,” Armas said. “But I always want to leave the game in a position where we can win.”
So far this season, 15 of Ortiz’s 46 earned runs have come in the first.
“That’s one of my biggest pet peeves as a pitcher, not making guys swing the bat, just giving up a base,” Ortiz said. “So after that inning, I told myself I was not going to let that happen again.”
That’s what he did. Ortiz retired 21 of the final 24 batters he faced—he pitched around three more walks—and allowed only three balls to be hit to the outfield in that span.
In the ninth, LaRoche singled and advanced to third on Thomas’ double. Eddie Perez then hit a fly to Wilkerson in left, scoring LaRoche. Thomas scored to make it 6-2 when Wilkerson made an errant throw to third on the play.
The two hits allowed by the Braves were their fewest since they gave up one to the St. Louis Cardinals on Aug. 4, 2002.
“I don’t know how many games you can with two hits,” Montreal manager Frank Robinson said. “I’m surprised we stayed in the game that long.”
Jones hit into a double play in the fourth, his 19th of the season. That’s a new career high, and it leads the majors. … Everett made an incredible catch in the fifth inning, chasing down a drive by Rafael Furcal. The ball bounced off the heel of Everett’s glove, then off his thigh before he grabbed it with his bare hand just before he hit the wall.
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