Atlanta (78-52) at Chicago (56-73)

Rain Currently: Chicago, IL, US
Temp: 39° F
  • Game info: 8:05 pm EDT Wed Aug 24, 2011
  • TV: FSS, CSN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Derek Lowe(notes) had one of his strongest performances in nearly two months for the Atlanta Braves in his previous outing. He wasn’t as steady in his most recent matchup with the Chicago Cubs.

The right-hander will seek a better result in his first start at Wrigley Field since the 2008 playoffs Wednesday night and try to lead the NL wild card leaders to a season-high seventh win in a row.

In part of a string of dominant pitching for Atlanta, Lowe (8-11, 4.73 ERA) gave up four hits and struck out seven in five scoreless innings Friday during a 4-2 win over Arizona. Before giving up four runs in the fifth inning Tuesday, the Braves (78-52) had yielded three runs in their previous five games and produced a 30-inning scoreless streak, their longest since 36 in a row from April 26-May 1, 1992.

That fifth inning was their only hiccup in the second of a four-game set at Wrigley as they held on for a 5-4 win. Jason Heyward(notes) provided most of the offense with a grand slam and Craig Kimbrel(notes) recorded his 40th save, tying the MLB rookie record set by Texas’ Neftali Feliz(notes) last season.

“I’ll look back on it at the end of the year,” said Kimbrel, who has not allowed a run in his last 31 2-3 innings. “Right now, I’m just worried about helping us win and helping us get to the playoffs.

“It’s pretty awesome. When you’re winning games, it’s fun.”

Lowe will try to help the Braves keep rolling by putting his struggles further behind. He was 2-5 with a 6.81 ERA in his seven starts before Friday’s game, and has alternated losses and wins in four outings this month. Lowe has posted a 10.80 ERA in the defeats and a 1.64 ERA in the two victories.

His start against the Cubs (56-73) on Aug. 13 was one of those poorer performances as he gave up five runs and a season high-tying 10 hits over six innings of an 8-4 defeat. Lowe was 4-0 with a 3.00 ERA in his 10 previous matchups, including a win for Los Angeles in the 2008 NL division series opener in Chicago.

In his return to Wrigley, Lowe will pitch opposite Randy Wells(notes) (4-4, 5.84), who is seeking a third straight win.

The Cubs right-hander was solid while outdueling Lowe earlier this month, allowing two runs over five innings. He followed by giving up four runs over seven innings to St. Louis on Friday and avoided the loss when Chicago rallied for a 5-4 win.

Wells has allowed four runs or more in 10 of his 16 starts this season.

Aramis Ramirez(notes) will try to help the right-hander by building on a career-best, 5-for-5 performance Tuesday, which extended his hit streak to 12 games. The Cubs third baseman, batting .563 with four homers and 14 RBIs during his run, is 5 for 18 with a home run in his career against Lowe.

“I feel pretty good,” Ramirez said.

Michael Bourn(notes) is 7 for 21 in his career against Wells and his 66 hits against the Cubs are the third-most by any player over the last four seasons behind Ryan Braun(notes) (75) and Albert Pujols(notes) (69).

The Braves are 22-10 at Wrigley since the start of the 2001 season, giving them the best winning percentage of any NL team.

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Starting Pitchers

D. Lowe TEX vs. R. Wells TEX
9-17 Record 7-6
5.05 ERA 4.99
137 K 82
70 BB 47
1.51 WHIP 1.39