Series: Game 1 of 3

Atlanta leads 1-0 (as of 5/21)

Game 1: Friday, May 21
LA Dodgers0Final
Game 2: Saturday, May 22
LA Dodgers7Final
Game 3: Sunday, May 23
LA Dodgers1Final

Dodgers 0

(22-18, 11-8 away)

Braves 2

(19-21, 10-9 home)

    7:35 PM ET, May 21, 2004

    Turner Field, Atlanta, Georgia 

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    LA 000000000 0 6 0
    ATL 00000011 - 2 6 0

    W: R. Ortiz (4-4)

    L: O. Perez (2-3)

    S: J. Smoltz (7)

    Ortiz masterful in extending Dodgers' slide

    ATLANTA (AP) -- Having watched Russ Ortiz escape from one jam after another, Chipper Jones couldn't resist giving his teammate a new name.

    Nice job, Houdini.

    Ortiz twice escaped with the bases loaded and Jones broke up a scoreless game by homering in the seventh inning, sending the Atlanta Braves over the slumping Los Angeles Dodgers 2-0 Friday night.

    The Dodgers have lost eight in a row -- their longest slide since June 1992, when the team dropped 10 straight.

    Los Angeles had plenty of chances.

    Ortiz walked five and gave up four hits in seven innings. But he never gave in to the Dodgers, getting out his biggest predicaments with inning-ending double plays.

    "I told him around the fifth or sixth inning, `Nice job Harry," Jones said. "He was like, 'Harry?' And I said, 'Yeah, Houdini.' The guy is unbelievable. He constantly puts himself behind the 8-ball, but somehow, some way, he gets them to hit a bullet at somebody and we turn the double play.

    "Whatever works for you."

    What worked for Jones was moving up in the box. He flied out and struck out in his first two at-bats against Odalis Perez, struggling to make contact with a changeup that dipped wickedly in front of the plate.

    Perez (2-3) had given up only two hits and not allowed a runner past second when Jones came up in the seventh, setting up about 8 inches closer to the mound. Perez went with his changeup on a 2-1 pitch, but Jones lofted it into the left-field seats for his fifth homer of the season.

    "I told myself before the last at-bat that I was going to scoot up in the box and hit the changeup before it dipped," Jones said. "He's got really good movement, but I finally ran into one."

    Perez made the pitch he wanted.

    "I don't think it was a mistake," he said. "It was a very good pitch. He's a very good hitter."

    Despite the losing streak, the Dodgers remained first in the NL West by percentage points over San Diego. But the memory of their 22-10 start is beginning to fade.

    "Every team goes through this," Perez said. "We're in a bad slump. We need to stop it."

    Jones' 403-foot homer made a winner of Ortiz (4-4), who left after 112 pitches. Chris Reitsma pitched a 1-2-3 eighth, and John Smoltz worked around two hits in the ninth for his seventh save in eight chances.

    While Ortiz struggled with his control, he did bounce back nicely from his worst start of the season. Last Saturday, he lasted only 1 1-3 innings at Milwaukee, walking seven and giving up four runs.

    "There's a bigger fire in your belly after a game like that," Ortiz said. "You want to go out and have a good, solid start."

    He really got tough when the Dodgers got runners on base.

    In the second, Adrian Beltre and Juan Encarnacion singled and Jason Grabowski walked, but Alex Cora grounded into an inning-ending double play.

    Ortiz walked the bases full in the sixth, but Shawn Green's hard grounder was smothered by shortstop Jesse Garcia, who from his knees made a quick flip to Nick Green for the relay to first and another double play.

    "It's huge being able to get out of situations like that," Ortiz said. "Unfortunately, I've had to do that a lot. But I always feel I'm going to make my pitch to every hitter."

    Perez hasn't won since April 28, despite giving up just nine earned runs in 28 innings (2.89 ERA) over his last four starts. He gave up four hits in seven innings to the Braves.

    "When we were winning, everybody was happy," Perez said. "We just need to be patient."

    Through the first six innings, only two Atlanta runners got as far as second base. Mark DeRosa ended an 0-for-16 slump with a bloop double down the right-field line leading off the third, but was promptly picked off by Perez.

    Green walked in the sixth and went to second on a balk. Garcia grounded out, ending the inning.

    Atlanta added a run in the eighth off Darren Dreifort. Rookie Nick Green led off with a double and wound up scoring when shortstop Cesar Izturis made a high throw home on a grounder with the infield pulled in.

    Game notes

    Perez, who began his career with the Braves, is 1-1 with 2.05 ERA in three career starts against his former team. ... The Braves used their 35th different lineup in 40 games. ... Grabowski extended his career-high hitting streak to seven games with a ninth-inning single off Smoltz. ... The Braves have surrendered only one run the last two games. ... Former Braves star Dale Murphy made a marriage proposal on behalf of his son, Chad, while serving as a guest analyst on the Braves' television broadcast. Chad called in to say his girlfriend had accepted.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press