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Updated: Saturday, May 22, 2004 12:19 AM EDT
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ATLANTA 2, LOS ANGELES 0
 

ATLANTA (Ticker) -- Chipper Jones hit Odalis Perez 's changeup into the seats in left-center field and officially sent the Los Angeles Dodgers into panic mode.

Russ Ortiz , Chris Reitsma and John Smoltz combined on a six-hitter as the Atlanta Braves handed the Dodgers their eighth straight loss, 2-0.

Perez (2-3) was mowing down the Braves until Jones waited on an off-speed pitch with one out in the seventh and ripped his fifth homer of the season.

"I had trouble in my first two at-bats with his changeup so I told myself in that last at-bat I was going to scoot up in the batters box," Jones said. "Finally, I ran into one and it came in a good spot. It was huge for the team to get Russ a run."

"It was a perfect pitch," Perez said. "That's what I wanted to throw."

Ortiz (4-4) was wild but effective. The righthander allowed four hits and five walks while striking out seven in seven innings. He escaped one-out, bases-loaded jams by getting Alex Cora and Shawn Green to ground into double plays in the second and sixth innings, respectively.

"It was huge," Ortiz said "Being able to get out of those situations. Unfortuantely, I've had to do that a lot. I always felt I can make my pitch on any hitter. For some reason it's been easy for me to lock in."

Ortiz was trying to put the memory of his last start against Milwaukee behind him. He walked seven batters and gave up four runs in just 1 1/3 innings.

"It seemed like it was a long time since being on the mound," Ortiz said. "There was a little bigger fire in my belly to go out and have a better start."

"Russ got out of some tight spots," Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said. "He got some double-play bals. He kept us in it all night long with some grit and determination. Russ doesn't give in, that's why he wins."

After the Braves added an insurance run in the eighth, Smoltz gave up two hits in the ninth but hung on to notch his seventh save.

"We actually swung the bats good tonight," Paul Lo Duca said. "Some balls we hit right at them. The first seven games (of the losing streak) were not like this. Tonight was tough. A ball maybe a foot to the right or left and we're going to score four or five runs. We just need a bleeder or something. This happens to every team."

Perez allowed one run and four hits in seven innings but the Dodgers have lost eight in a row for the first time since dropping 10 straight in June 1992.

"It's happening to us now, but we're not going to play like this the whole year," Perez said. "No way, we're too good. Every team goes through this. This is concerning because we want to win every game, but things will change."

Atlanta's J.D. Drew singled in the second inning and has reached base safely in 20 of his last 24 games with six homers and 16 RBI.


© 2005 STATS, Inc
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