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Lowe gets another opening occasion


Lowe gets another opening occasion
Philadelphia --- Some pitchers would consider two opening-night starts in six days a bit much on the stress meter. Derek Lowe is not one of them.

The new Braves ace is set to pitch tonight's home opener against Washington. He pitched eight scoreless innings of two-hit ball in a season-opening win Sunday at Philadelphia.

"Going to have the same emotions as Sunday night," Lowe said, "and I'm going to try to embrace it, take it in, enjoy it. I'm very fortunate in how the schedule set up, to be able to do this."

The Braves won their first two games in Philadelphia, then endured a stunning 12-11 loss Wednesday after their bullpen blew a seven-run lead in the seventh inning.

After that defeat and an off day Thursday to stew, the Braves will turn to their 35-year-old No. 1 starter to reset the tone.

"We're coming home and playing against a team we struggled against last year," said Lowe, referring to Atlanta's 6-12 record against the Nationals in 2008.

He signed a four-year, $60 million free-agent contract in January, and Lowe hopes to make a good impression in his first game at Turner Field.

"It's going to be a great crowd," said the right-hander, who is 5-1 with a 2.51 ERA in six starts against the Nationals . "But you don't want to say, 'Hey, I'm gonna go in and try to impress people,' because that's when negative results start happening. You've got to prepare like you always have."

At Philadelphia, Lowe became the second pitcher in the six-year history of Citizens Bank Park to allow as few as two hits in eight scoreless innings. He walked none and struck out four.

"We came out aggressive . . . hungry," Chipper Jones said of the Braves, who jumped to a 2-0 lead on Brian McCann's first-inning homer. "We wanted to have a good showing. That's the one game all year where everybody's eyes are on us. All of America, all the other teams stop what they're doing to watch that first game.

"The first couple of innings, the way we swung the bats and D-Lowe's performance, we certainly served notice that we've got a pretty good team."

The Braves did the same thing in each of the next two games against the Phillies, notching a homer and 2-0 lead in the first inning. But a prime chance to sweep was wasted when the bullpen collapsed Wednesday, including four bases-loaded walks. Jones, who missed the series finale with a bruised left thumb, is expected to play tonight. Left fielder Garret Anderson is questionable after aggravating a calf muscle strain before Wednesday's game.

The Braves out-homered the Phillies 8-1, and the starting pitchers --- Lowe, Jair Jurrjens, Javier Vazquez --- allowed three earned runs in 19 2/3 innings for a league-best 1.37 ERA. However, relievers were charged with 10 runs, 10 hits and eight walks in 6 1/3 innings.

Now the Braves turn back to Lowe to make his second start.

Braves HOME OPENER

* Who: vs. Nationals

* When: 7:30 p.m. today

* TV; radio: WPCH; 640 AM, 96.1 FM


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 10, 2009

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