Originally created 09/27/03

Ramirez smothers Phillies



PHILADELPHIA - The debate about whether Atlanta Braves pitcher Horacio Ramirez should make the Game 4 start in the National League Division Series could be a short one.

If Braves manager Bobby Cox is reluctant to bring Game 1 starter Russ Ortiz back on three days rest, Ramirez is making his case to take the mound.

The rookie left-hander, who began the season as the fifth starter and has become a regular in Cox's starting rotation, offered another glimpse of his enormous potential Friday night, pitching six dominant innings in the Braves' 100th win - a 6-0 victory over the reeling Philadelphia Phillies.

"How about (Game) 1, 2 or 3?" Cox said. "He looked terrific. He just moves the ball around so brilliantly. He's a lot like Tom Glavine when he first came up."

There wasn't much to cheer about for a sellout crowd of 58,096 spectators who came to say goodbye to Veterans Stadium. The old ballpark will be demolished next year when Citizens Bank Park opens next door.

The Phillies, who were knocked out of the wild-card race Thursday by the Florida Marlins, managed five hits against Ramirez and appeared ready to call it a season. Ramirez (12-4) did not walk a batter for the third time in his past six starts and struck out two.

"I feel like I was in control the whole game," Ramirez said. "These (past five) starts have been the best ones I've had in a long time. I'm real happy with the way I'm throwing the ball."

The 100th win also made Cox the second manager in major league history to record six 100-win seasons, joining Joe McCarthy.

"Pretty good company," Cox said. "He was blessed with good players, and so am I."

Said left fielder Chipper Jones: "From a historical standpoint, Bobby managing six teams to 100 wins is pretty impressive. So much has been said about individual stats this year, but probably the guy with the most impressive stats is our manager."

It took the Braves nearly six innings to reach Phils starter Vicente Padilla, who gave up just three hits in the first five innings and allowed one runner to advance beyond first base.

Padilla struck out four during that span and ducked trouble in the third after Rafael Furcal's two-out double. Padilla induced Marcus Giles to hit a harmless fly to right, then didn't allow another hit until the sixth, when Giles tucked his 21st home run just inside the right-field foul pole for the game's first run.

Padilla, who had beaten the Braves three times this season, came undone in the seventh. Jones sent a double to right-center, and Andruw Jones was hit by a pitch. Javy Lopez knocked in both runners with a double, increasing his RBI total to a career-high 108. Vinny Castilla's double play roller sent in Lopez to make it 4-0.

Castilla's run-scoring double and Furcal's RBI single caused the crowd to spend most of the ninth booing reliever Mike Williams.

"We just want to be playing good ball come Tuesday," Giles said. "We didn't want to try and turn on the switch when the playoffs start. One hundred wins is nice, but it was more important to sharpen up our game."

Reach Bill Zack at bzack30143@aol.com.