After losing the NL East lead, Atlanta will try to regain its footing Monday when it continues its seven-game homestand with Lowe facing the slumping Nationals.
The Braves (82-62) are 51-21 at Turner Field including a 4-2 mark against Washington, with Lowe (12-12, 4.42 ERA) suffering both losses. The veteran right-hander is 0-3 with a 6.11 ERA overall against the Nationals this season, and 1-7 with a 4.99 ERA in his last 10 outings versus Washington.
Lowe may wish he was facing another NL cellar dweller again. He improved to 10-0 lifetime against Pittsburgh by throwing six innings of one-run ball in Wednesday’s 9-3 victory.
“You can’t put your finger on it,” Lowe, who had missed his previous start due to elbow soreness, told the Braves’ official website. “My next opponent, Washington, I haven’t beaten them in two years (it was actually Aug. 12, 2009).”
Lowe will try to help the Braves bounce back from Sunday’s 7-3 loss to St. Louis, which dropped them one game behind Philadelphia for the East lead. Atlanta, seeking its first postseason berth since 2005, leads the wild-card race by one game over San Francisco.
Atlanta has six meetings remaining with the lowly Nationals, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. These clubs have split 12 matchups in 2010, while the Braves own winning records against their other three division rivals.
Washington could play a key spoiler’s role this week, as it will visit the Phillies for three games following this series.
The Nationals (60-83) fell a season-high 23 games below .500 after losing the final five on a six-game homestand, including a 6-5 defeat to Florida on Sunday. Manager Jim Riggleman called a closed-door meeting after his club got swept by the Marlins.
“If anybody in the room thought that was acceptable, they need to be made aware that we certainly don’t think it’s acceptable,” said Riggleman, whose club’s last six-game skid was June 15-20. “I think the losing wears on you, but it’s a 162-game schedule. It’s a nine-inning ballgame. That’s what you sign up for. That’s what you give.”
Right-hander Yunesky Maya(notes) (0-1, 7.20) will try to give Washington a solid outing in his second career start. In his major league debut Tuesday, the 29-year-old Cuban defector lasted five innings and allowed four runs and five hits in a 4-1 loss to the New York Mets. He gave up three runs in the first, but settled down as the game progressed and retired the last eight batters he faced.
“I just felt more comfortable (after) that first inning,” Maya said through his interpreter, teammate Wil Nieves(notes). “I was hitting my spots. When I do well, that’s what I do. I’m ahead of the hitters, and I can do what I want after that.”
Atlanta has won or tied its last 20 series at Turner Field.
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