ATLANTA -- The Washington Nationals are moving closer to the upper half of the NL East and a lot of the credit for the rise belongs to Ramon Ortiz.
Ortiz won his fifth straight start by outpitching John Smoltz, and Marlon Anderson hit a two-run homer as Washington beat the Atlanta Braves 5-2 on Wednesday night.
Ortiz, who was 0-4 when the Nationals left Atlanta in the middle of May, improved to 5-4 with his fifth straight win, giving up six hits and two runs in 6 2/3 innings.
"It's something nobody could predict," Washington manager Frank Robinson said of the turnaround. "It's been enjoyable to watch. It's been unbelievable. Really. He's a different person."
Braves manager Bobby Cox has noticed the change.
"We've hit Ortiz before, but not this year," Cox said. "He's a much better pitcher."
The Nationals won two of three from the Braves to improve to 4-4 against them this season.
"You don't do that a whole lot here," Anderson said of the series win.
Over the last 11 seasons the Nationals won the season series against the Braves once, 7-6 in 2000 when they were still the Montreal Expos.
Atlanta, which snapped a five-game losing streak Tuesday night, completed a disappointing 2-8 homestand and are only two games ahead of fourth-place Washington.
"I don't think we've ever had one like this," Cox said of the homestand.
The Nationals completed a 6-3 road trip with six wins in their last seven games.
Ortiz, who walked one and struck out five, has won five straight starts since his last loss -- a 6-2 decision in Atlanta on May 12. Ortiz took his first career win over the Braves in five starts.
"I never put my head down," Ortiz said of his start. "I feel better now. I'm pitching better. They're scoring a lot of runs for me. ... Everything is coming together."
Chad Cordero pitched the ninth for his 11th save.
Smoltz (4-4), pitching on only three days' rest, gave up six hits and three runs in seven innings. He had eight strikeouts and one walk.
Jeff Francoeur, leading off the second inning, was hit on his left arm by Ortiz. Francoeur and Ortiz exchanged words as Francoeur walked to first base, and Ortiz then drew boos from the crowd by making several throws to first base.
In the fourth inning, Smoltz nailed Ryan Zimmerman on the hip with a fastball. Home plate umpire Angel Hernandez immediately issued warnings to both benches.
Smoltz gave up a double to Alfonso Soriano leading off the game and a second-inning single to Brian Schneider. He then shut down the Nationals until giving up three straight hits and three runs with two outs in the sixth.
Nick Johnson doubled to center to spark the Nationals' inning. Zimmerman followed with another double to center for a 1-0 lead.
Anderson's second homer of the season, a drive into the right-field seats, made it 3-0.
Smoltz said Johnson's hit "was the at-bat that cost me."
"I could be in that situation 1,000 times, and 999 times I don't think I'm giving up three runs," Smoltz said, adding Johnson hit a slider in on his hands.
Ortiz allowed only two hits before Edgar Renteria opened the sixth with a double over a leaping Damian Jackson in center. With two outs, Adam LaRoche's single up the middle cut Washington's lead to 3-1.
Pete Orr, hitting for Smoltz with two outs in the seventh, drilled a 1-0 pitch into the right-field seats for his first homer of the season, pulling the Braves within one.
Marcus Giles, batting behind Orr, just missed another homer when his deep drive off the wall in center fell for a triple as outfielders Damian Jackson and Marlon Byrd collided. Jackson stayed down for a few minutes following the collision but remained in the game. Reliever Gary Majewski struck out Renteria to end the inning.
Pinch-hitter Daryle Ward had a two-run double in the eighth to make it 5-2.
Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank, one of the leading bidders to buy the Braves, watched the game from a box seat with Braves chairman and president Terry McGuirk. ... Anderson's homer was his first since May 18 at Chicago. ... Orr's homer was the second of his career, both as a pinch hitter. His first homer came on April 25, 2005 at New York.