Two of baseball’s top starting pitchers who were turned into relievers before becoming starters again face each other on Monday night, when Smoltz and Lowe square off in the opener of a four-game series at Dodger Stadium.
Smoltz (9-4, 2.98 ERA) has 202 wins and 154 saves in his 19-year career with the Braves (43-39), while Lowe (8-7, 3.03) has amassed 108 victories and 85 saves in his 11-year career. Lowe, Smoltz and Dennis Eckersley are the only pitchers in baseball history to have a 20-win season and a 40-save season in their careers.
The 40-year-old Smoltz was selected to his eighth All-Star game on Sunday, becoming the oldest pitcher selected to this year’s NL squad.
“It’s gratifying, but it’s (based on) just half of a season,” he told the team’s official Web site. “So you want to duplicate that same kind of second half.”
Smoltz would also like to replicate his only start against Los Angeles (46-36) this season. The right-hander gave up six hits and six struck out six in seven innings of a 4-0 win over the Dodgers on May 4.
He is 16-3 with six saves and a 2.81 ERA in 46 games - 35 starts - lifetime against the Dodgers.
In Wednesday’s 13-0 win over Washington, Smoltz allowed five hits and struck out seven without allowing a run, but was pulled after the fifth when the Braves built a 10-run lead.
“We got him a lot of runs, and I didn’t see any reason for him to go out and even pitch the sixth inning,” Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said.
Smoltz tries to continue his success on the road, where he is 3-1 with a 2.70 ERA in his last five away from Turner Field. The Braves have won six of his eight road starts.
Lowe is a two-time All-Star, but a lack of run support this year hurt his chances of making his first appearance in the midsummer classic since 2002 with Boston.
Lowe once again fell victim to a lack of offensive help his last time out, as he gave up two runs and five hits in 6 2-3 innings of a 2-0 loss to Arizona. In his seven losses this season, he has been backed by just five runs, and his offense has been shut out three times.
The right-hander has allowed one earned run in three of his last four starts, but is just 2-2 in those games.
“What can you do?” he told the team’s official Web site.
Lowe was sharp in his only start against the Braves this season, giving up one run, three hits and striking out eight in seven innings of a 6-3 win at Turner Field on May 5.
He is 2-3 with three saves and a 3.88 ERA in 14 games - seven starts - lifetime against the Braves.
The Dodgers beat San Diego 5-0 Sunday to avoid a three-game sweep, and move within one game of the first-place Padres in the NL West.
“Anytime you lose two games against a team in your own division, you can’t let them take that third one,” said Russell Martin, who will make his first All-Star appearance as the NL’s starting catcher.
The Braves lost to Florida 6-5 in 11 innings on Sunday, ending a five-game winning streak.
Andruw Jones hit his 13th homer of the season, but is still batting only .120 (6-for-50) with two home runs and five RBIs in his last 13 games. He hasn’t had much success against Lowe either, going only 4-for-21 (.190) with a homer and six strikeouts in his career against him.