We have a lot of baseball left to play, and the ultimate goal is winning as a team, but I'm personally satisfied with the way this season has played out so far. We're in good position, and I've been able to perform well.

What makes my success meaningful is that I'm performing well for a team that's in the playoff chase. Obviously, we're trying to play good baseball, get some wins and get to the playoffs. As part of the club I want to contribute to that goal.

With less than two months to play, hopefully I can pitch well down the stretch and we'll be there in the end.

I don't pay much attention to stats during the season. Sometimes I've gone back at the end of the season and looked really closely at the numbers and, then again in recent years, I haven't looked at them very much at all. Earlier in my career I looked at numbers much more than I do now.

It was important for me to come to this new club and pitch well, because getting off on the right foot with a new organization is a positive. But, in the bigger picture, you want to pitch well regardless of what year it is or what team you're playing for. I always try to pitch well, and I always try and have a good season. Sometimes it just doesn't happen that way.

As a starting pitcher, you're going to have some great games, some good games and some terrible games, I guess.

When you have one of your better games, usually you have all of your pitches working. There are also times when you get by without having everything working. It's just tough to have all your pitches going well and feeling like you're 100 percent all the time.

I anticipate a battle every time I go out there, so the key for me is to give my best effort no matter what. Some games, some years are better than others.

I definitely like being back in the National League, a league I really grew up in. My first six seasons were with the Expos, and I had some success with Montreal. I've always liked the NL more. I like that you get to swing the bat, even if you're just trying to bunt a guy over.

To me, the NL feels like more of a complete game. When I was growing up, I wasn't always the pitcher. I also played shortstop and second base, so I would hit, and I loved it. I love to compete, whether it's on the mound or in the batter's box. It probably wasn't until I was 15 years old that I started concentrating on pitching.

Javier Vazquez, a 12-year veteran right-hander, has posted a 2.99 ERA in 23 starts while striking out 178 batters in 162 innings and holding opponents to a .225 average in his first season with Atlanta.