DENVER (AP) -- Acquired in a trade with San Francisco last
December, Russ Ortiz has fit seamlessly into the Atlanta rotation
just like almost every other Braves starter over the last dozen
So much so, that manager Bobby Cox seems somewhat jaded by it
"Russ pitched his normal game again -- just a duplicate of all
the other ones," Cox said Sunday after Ortiz pitched Atlanta to a
12-6 win over Colorado.
Ortiz posted his major league-leading 18th win as the Braves
swept a three-game series, rebounding from being swept in three
games by San Francisco last week.
Vinny Castilla also homered as the Braves got 17 hits, one shy
of their season high.
The Rockies were swept at home for the first time this season.
The game was briefly delayed in the top of the fifth when a fan
injured his leg while participating in a flyball-catching contest
between innings. He had to be carted off the field.
Ortiz (18-5) allowed seven hits and four runs in 6 2-3 innings,
walking one and striking out five. He matched his career high of 18
victories set with San Francisco in 1999.
Ortiz also helped himself at the plate. He hit a sacrifice fly
and later a single, scoring on Furcal's homer in the seventh.
"For the most part, I felt I made my pitches and hit my
spots," Ortiz said. "That's one thing about this park. All you
can do is make your pitches and not worry about how the ball
travels or anything like that."
Asked about the prospect of winning 20 games, Ortiz said, "I
don't really think about it too much. Obviously, it's a
possibility, but I'm just looking start by start. That helps me
focus on the team."
He also shrugged off suggestions he was a leading contender for
the NL Cy Young Award.
"You've got guys like (Atlanta reliever John) Smoltz and (Los
Angeles reliever Eric) Gagne and who knows what's going to happen
with other starters, too. Too many possibilities for me to worry
Denny Stark (2-2) went five innings, allowing 10 hits and seven
runs, six earned.
"We got manhandled two out of three games," Rockies manager
Clint Hurdle said. "Our starting pitching got manhandled two out
of three games. Stark pitched a good game his last time out. We
were looking for some momentum, some consistency, to keep something
positive going, and we got everything but that."
Hurdle said opponents must bring "their `A' game to deal with
the Braves. They're real good. They're what, 38 games over .500
now? That's a lot."
The Braves jumped out to a 7-1 lead off Stark after four
Atlanta scratched out a run in the second. Two singles and a
walk loaded the bases with no outs. Matt Franco hit a chopper back
to Stark, who threw home to get the forceout, but catcher Mandy
Romero's relay to first was off the mark, and the error allowed a
run to score.
Furcal singled to lead off the third, and Sheffield followed
with a two-run homer, his 33rd. Jones doubled and scored on Javy
Two sacrifice flies helped the Braves score three more runs in
Franco walked, went to third on Castilla's single and scored on
Ortiz's sacrifice fly. Furcal singled and Marcus Giles was hit by a
pitch, loading the bases. Sheffield hit a sacrifice fly, and Jones
added an RBI single.
Atlanta made it 9-1 in the sixth on an RBI double by Chipper
Jones and a run-scoring groundout by Andruw Jones.
Jay Payton hit a solo homer, his 19th, in the Rockies' half.
In the seventh, Furcal hit a two-run homer, his 15th, off Cory
Castilla hit his 21st homer in the eighth.
Colorado RF Rene Reyes made a diving catch to rob Lopez in
the fifth. ... The Braves beat Colorado in the season series 6-0,
recording their third season series sweep in Atlanta history. They
beat Colorado 13-0 in 1993 and Los Angeles 6-0 in 1994. ...
Norton's double was his 17th pinch-hit this season, leading the
majors. ... Stark suffered just his second career loss at Coors
Field, where he is 9-2 in 18 starts over two seasons.