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Ortiz confident, set for Game 4
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10/04/2003  1:51 AM ET 
Ortiz confident, set for Game 4
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Russ Ortiz escaped numerous jams during Tuesday's early innings. (John Bazemore/AP)
Clement set for Game 4 start

CHICAGO -- When Russ Ortiz takes the mound on Saturday afternoon, he will be trying to do for the Braves what he did to them last year.

Ortiz, who defeated the Braves twice in last year's postseason, will start against the Cubs in Game 4 of the National League Division Series at Wrigley Field. Atlanta lost on Friday night to create a 2-1 deficit in this best-of five series.

"If we lay it all on the line and do everything we need to do, I think everyone in here feels we'll win a ballgame," Ortiz said. "[On Friday night], Chicago did everything they needed to do to win."

Ortiz will be working on three days' rest for just the second time in his career. But in his first experience, which came on April 7 of this year against the Marlins, the Braves' 21-game winner tossed seven scoreless innings to record the first of his National League league-leading 21 wins this year.

"It's no problem," Ortiz said. "I don't really get sore after I pitch. I know now it's not that big of a deal. I did it at the beginning of the year and felt just as strong and good as I normally do. For me, it's not really a big thing pitching one day earlier."

Ortiz threw 104 pitches, while allowing four earned runs in 5 2/3 innings and suffering a loss in Game 1 on Tuesday night at Turner Field. The strong right-hander threw at least 100 pitches in 22 of his 34 starts this year and has never shown signs of arm problems or fatigue.

"Fatigue is something I've never understood," said Ortiz, who has logged at least 195 innings in each of his first five Major League seasons.

Ortiz escaped numerous jams during Tuesday's early innings. But he ran out of luck when the Cubs chased him with four runs in the sixth inning of their series-opening win.

"We just have to come back tomorrow and win," Ortiz said. "In this situation, you just have to feel confident and realize that there is no doubt if you do what you've got to do you're going to win a ballgame. You've got to think that way, or else you're going to put too much pressure on yourself."

Before Tuesday night, Ortiz had allowed just four earned runs in 17 2/3 innings of Division Series play. The right-hander, who pitched for current Cubs manager Dusty Baker in San Francisco before being dealt to Atlanta last December, defeated the Braves in both of his first-round starts against them last year.

Baker, who will send fourth starter Matt Clement to the mound on Saturday, has traditionally not opted to bring his pitchers back on short rest.

"The reason I haven't done it is because guys aren't conditioned on short rest, and then you risk an injury and all kind of things," Baker said. "So if the starter is a fourth starter and strong or better than the first or second starter that's operating from low rest or energy, you've got to go with him."

Cox, who termed Ortiz a 'horse' this year, said his decision to go with his veteran over Horacio Ramirez wasn't because he lacks confidence in his rookie southpaw.

"Talent is talent," Cox said. "Whether you're 40 years old or 20 years old, it makes no difference. I don't think being a rookie has much bearing for me."

But at the same time when your alternative is a 21-game winner, who has a wealth of postseason experience, it seems logical to ride that horse.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.





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