ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Russ Ortiz worked into the ninth inning to
become the second 16-game winner in the major leagues and the
Atlanta Braves hit four home runs in a 7-2 victory over the St.
Louis Cardinals Friday night.
Ortiz (16-5) allowed two runs on five hits in eight-plus
innings, joining Roy Halladay of the Blue Jays as the top winners.
He's won nine of his last 10 and has never lost consecutive
decisions, bouncing back in this one after a loss in his last start
to the Dodgers.Gary Sheffield, Marcus Giles, Andruw Jones and Javy Lopez
homered for the Braves, who lead the NL with 174.Albert Pujols doubled in the sixth to extend his hitting streak
to 22 games for the Cardinals, who have lost three of the first
four on a six-game homestand. Pujols, who got his 100th RBI and
scored his 100th run on Thursday, is batting .395 (34-for-86)
during the streak and a major-league best .371 overall.The Braves have won eight in a row over the Cardinals dating to
last season, including a three-game sweep in Atlanta in April. The
NL West leaders are 76-39, matching the best start in franchise
history, set in 1998 and matched last season.Sheffield, who entered the game with a major league-leading .361
road average, hit his 28th homer in the first inning off Jeff
Fassero (1-6). Giles hit his 14th, a two-run shot and his third
homer in as many games, in the third for a 3-0 lead.Jones hit his 29th homer, a two-run shot to center off Esteban
Yan, for a 6-2 lead in the eighth. Lopez, the next batter, also
connected to center for his 31st homer.Ortiz scattered five hits and had six strikeouts and four walks,
leaving after walking Scott Rolen to start the ninth. The only
blemish was a two-run double by Edgar Renteria in the fourth after
Tino Martinez and Rolen drew successive one-out walks.The Cardinals missed another chance to score in the second after
Martinez and Rolen got leadoff singles to put runners at the
corners. St. Louis was 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position and
is 3-for-25 in that situation during the homestand.Fassero had come out of the bullpen to give the Cardinals'
struggling rotation a boost with three straight effective starts.
But he lasted only 3 2-3 innings against the Braves, allowing four
runs on five hits.
^Notes:@ Fassero made his first start against the Braves since July
8, 2000 and he's 0-7 in nine starts since his last win over Atlanta
on Sept. 22, 1993. ... Ortiz reached 100 strikeouts for the fifth
straight year when he fanned Bo Hart to start the first. ...
Orlando Palmeiro is 12-for-34 as a pinch hitter after singling in
the seventh. ... Hart is 1-for-15 on the homestand to drop his
average to .299. ... LF Chipper Jones and SS Rafael Furcal got the
night off for the Braves. ... The Braves are 24-8 in their last 32
games and are a season-best 37 games above .500. ... Pujols' streak
is the Cardinals' longest since Joe McEwing hit in 25 straight
games in 1999. ... The Cardinals have been held to eight runs the
first four games of the homestand.