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Updated: Saturday, April 17, 2004 11:41 PM EDT
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ATLANTA (Ticker) -- Russ Ortiz finally looked like an ace.

Ortiz outdueled Josh Beckett and Chipper Jones belted a two-run homer as the Atlanta Braves posted a 4-1 victory over the Florida Marlins .

After winning a career-high 21 games in 2003, Ortiz was expected to be the Braves' ace this season following the departure of Greg Maddux . But he struggled by losing his first two starts.

Ortiz (1-2) was much better against the defending world champions as he allowed one run and six hits in 6 2/3 innings. The righthander struck out seven and did not issue a walk for the first time since May 18, 2003.

"Before last game, I said that I have to be more aggressive and pitch like I always pitched," said Ortiz, who threw first-pitch strikes to 18 of the 24 batters he faced. "I felt like I needed to step up and be aggressive on every pitch."

"That's one of the best games I ever saw Russ throw," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "He just stayed ahead of the hitters all night long."

Kevin Gryboski and Chris Reitsma combined for 1 1/3 scoreless innings before John Smoltz retired the side in order in the ninth for his third save. Smoltz notched his 113th career save, moving him past Mark Wohlers into second place on the club's all-time list.

Jones homered for the second time in as many nights, providing the Braves an early 2-0 lead with his 416-foot blast in the first off Beckett.

"You got to get to a guy like Josh early, because he gets better as the game goes on," Jones said. "It was important to give Russ some breathing room."

"It was not a very good pitch," a visibly upset Beckett said. "It was a (junky) pitch.

The Braves added two insurance runs in the seventh on a home run by Jesse Garcia and an RBI single by Marcus Giles , who extended his career-high hitting streak to 11 games.

The homer was Garcia's first since September 30, 1999 while with Baltimore.

"It feels so good," said Garcia, who started at shortstop in place of the injured Rafael Furcal . "Don't expect too many of those, especially in the left-center field gap."

Beckett (1-1), who was dominant in his first two starts, allowed four runs and eight hits in 6 1/3 innings. He walked two, struck out seven and departed after throwing 110 pitches.

"I was (crappy) the whole game," said Beckett, who fell to 2-5 lifetime against the Braves despite a 2.33 ERA. "We lost the game and I was the reason. I've got to pitch better than that. I can pitch better than that. That's why I'm so (ticked) off right now."

"Whenever he made a mistake with his fastball, we hit it and we hit it hard," Jones said.

Hee Seop Choi scored on a wild pitch in the seventh for the Marlins, who have lost consecutive games for the first time this season.

"You can't win if you don't score any runs, Marlins manager Jack McKeon said. We didn't give the pitchers any margin for error."

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