MIAMI - No one really expects Atlanta's Russ Ortiz to win 21 games again, like he did last year when he was one of the best-supported pitchers in the league.
But he won't need any extra runs if he continues to show no mercy to opposing lineups.
Ortiz did his part in Friday night's 6-1 win over the Marlins, scrambling through a sloppy first to pitch 6Q innings and allow just four hits. The 29-year-old right-hander, now 2-2 after beating Florida in back-to-back starts, didn't give up a run until the sixth, when the outcome had already been decided.
For the second time in six days, the Braves drubbed Marlins ace Josh Beckett, forcing him to retreat to the Pro Player Stadium clubhouse after just five innings. And, after sweeping the Marlins in Atlanta last weekend, the Braves have now won four straight over the defending world champions, who came into the game having won 11 of their first 15 games, the best start in team history.
Kevin Gryboski replaced Ortiz and recorded the last two outs in the seventh, Chris Reitsma pitched a three-up, three-down eighth, then John Smoltz closed out the Marlins in the ninth.
The Braves - who scored two runs in the first on Rafael Furcal's swinging bunt, Dewayne Wise's line single, Marcus Giles' sacrifice fly, and J.D. Drew's infield roller - added three more in the third.
Furcal opened the inning with a legitimate bunt, Wise advanced him with another bunt, Giles walked, then Andruw Jones delivered a run-scoring single, and rookie Adam LaRoche, continuing to recover from a rough start, sent a two-run double against the left field wall to make it 5-0.
In the fifth, Drew, who had not homered since April 12, ripped a 2-and-0 fastball from Beckett, last October's World Series MVP, into the right field seats, a drive measured at 356 feet.
Beckett, a 4-1 loser to the Braves last Saturday in Atlanta, was lifted after five, having allowed six runs on six hits and two walks. In two starts against the Braves this season, the 23-year-old Beckett gave up 10 runs on 14 hits in 11Q innings.
Ortiz did everything in his power to enable the Marlins to score in the first inning. He walked the first three batters, and Florida probably would have scored except catcher Johnny Estrada nailed Juan Pierre trying to steal second, then Ortiz induced Mike Lowell to hit a harmless fly to center and struck out Hee Seop Choi.