Sheffield homers, drives in three runs

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

years.


So much so, that manager Bobby Cox seems somewhat jaded by it

all.

"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.

Gary Sheffield homered and drove in three runs. Rafael Furcal,

who homered, and Chipper Jones each had four hits and two RBI for

Atlanta.

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

about."

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

innings.

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

Lopez's single.

Two sacrifice flies helped the Braves score three more runs in

the fourth.

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.

Colorado got a run in the first when Pablo Ozuna was hit by a

pitch, stole second and scored on Todd Helton's 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

Vance.

After surrendering two hits in the seventh, Ortiz gave way to

reliever Ray King, who served up a two-run double to pinch-hitter

Greg Norton. Norton finished with three RBI.

Castilla hit his 21st homer in the eighth.Game notes
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.