O's pound on Braves for Ortiz/ In this city, Anthony holds court in big way/ Pitcher goes 4 1/3 with 2 RBI hits in debut as Hudson gets belted

July 02, 2006|By JEFF ZREBIEC | JEFF ZREBIEC,SUN REPORTER

ATLANTA // They showed the graphic on the scoreboard last night at Turner Fieldwhile Russ Ortiz was warming up before throwing his first pitch as an Oriole. In 2003 as a member of the Atlanta Braves, Ortiz won a National League-high 21 games.

That same season, Tim Hudson won 16 games for the Oakland Athletics with a tidy 2.70 ERA. Three years later, on a humid night in Atlanta, they were simply two veteran pitches, relying on stuff not good enough to consistently get major league hitters out.

In the Orioles' 7-4 victory in front of 38,414, Hudson was yanked after 2 2/3 innings, booed off the mound after giving up six runs (five earned), 11 hits and two walks. Ortiz outlasted him, but struggled to just get through 4 1/3, two outs shy of being eligible for a win. He surrendered three earned runs, nine hits and four walks. His biggest contribution was his two RBI singles off Hudson.

The Orioles (38-44) pounded out 17 hits, compared to 14 by the Braves (34-47). Rookie Nick Markakis had his second fourhit game of the week, has seven hits this series and has reached base in eight of nine at-bats here. Brian Roberts had three hits and two RBIs and Ortiz, Jeff Conine and Brandon Fahey had two hits each

Miguel Tejada, who played in his 1,000th consecutive game, the longest active streak in the league and the seventh longestall-time, was 1-for-4, but did make two great plays at shortstop, including one in the ninth to throw out Andruw Jones at first fromshallowcenter field.

The Orioles used four relievers to close out the game with Kurt Birkins getting Ortiz out of a jam in the fifth, before Todd Williams, LaTroy Hawkins and Chris Ray finished off Atlanta. Ray allowed a leadoff homer to Chipper Jones in the ninth, before retiring three straight Braves to end the game.

The Orioles signed Ortiz on June 25, after the Arizona Diamondbacks became so disenchanted with the burly 32-year-old that they designated him for assignment, fully prepared to eat the remaining $22 million on his contract.

Several teams were interested, but Ortiz chose to sign with the Orioles, largely because of his fondness for pitching coach Leo Mazzone. Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo has said that the club will give Ortiz a couple of outings to assess his spot in the rotation. The No. 5 spot has been a trouble area all season as BruceChen was officially planted in the bullpen after 10, mostly subpar, starts. Rookie Adam Loewen was given a shot, but was 0-2 in five starts.

Ortiz certainly didn't show much in Arizona to suggest things would be different. He went just 5-16 with a 7.00 ERA in 28 starts with the Diamondbacks after signing a four-year contract following the 2004 season.

He was 0-5 with a 7.54 ERA in six starts this season, including his last innings versus the NewYorkMets.

He got off to a rocky start last night, allowing the first two batters he faced to reach. Andruw Jones then gave the Braves a 1-0 lead with an RBI single.

Fortunately for the Orioles, Hudson was even worse. The right-hander came in with three straight losses, giving up at least four runs in each of those games. Ortiz drove in the first Orioles' run with an RBI single. Roberts and Melvin Mora followed with run-scoring singles and the Orioles led 3-1. It was 4-1 after Chipper Jones' throwing error on Tejada's ground ball.

It got no better for Hudson, who allowed three straight oneout singles in the third, the last one by Ortiz scoring the Orioles' fifth run. After Roberts hit a sacrifice fly to give the Orioles a 6-1 lead, Hudson was pulled amid a chorus of boos.

Given a five-run lead, Ortiz started to get hit around in the fourth. He gave up three straight singles, the last by Scott Thorman, cutting the Orioles' lead to 6-2. Edgar Renteria then drove in another run with a twoout single before Ortiz got out of the fourth with help from the Braves. Trying to score on Chipper Jones' single, Thorman was thrown out at the plate by several steps on a one-hop throw from Fahey in left.

Perlozzo removed Ortiz with two on and one out in the fifth, bringing in Friday night's loser, Birkins, who got out of the inning with the Orioles' three-run lead intact.

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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