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Sun, May 22, 2011 - 3:35 PM ET
 

Braves-Angels Preview

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Joe Mather has been an unlikely contributor at the plate for the Atlanta Braves.

Derek Lowe wouldn't mind seeing that continue.

The Braves will try to give Lowe some rare offensive support when they face the Los Angeles Angels in the conclusion of this three-game interleague series on Sunday.

The Braves (26-22) opened this series by getting four-hit by Ervin Santana in a 9-0 loss Friday, but they rebounded Saturday with one of their best offensive showings of the season in a 5-4, 12-inning victory. They accumulated season highs of 17 hits and five doubles.

Mather has six hits in this series, while starting in place of the injured Jason Heyward (shoulder), who entered as a defensive replacement in the 12th inning Saturday. Mather may have made a case for giving Heyward another day of rest after hitting a three-run homer before driving in the go-ahead run on a double Saturday. He finished the game with career highs of four hits and four RBIs.

Mather has a .400 average in 14 games while Heyward is in a 4-for-35 slump over his past 15.

"I just tried to shorten my swing," Mather said of the adjustments he made at Triple-A Gwinett. "I had a tendency to swing with a little leg kick, which I was confident with, but it didn't turn out the way I wanted it to. So I just went back down and went back to what I'd always done. I felt confident, even when I was sent down."

Lowe (3-3, 3.43 ERA) is slated to get the ball and could use some help from the lineup. The right-hander has been backed by 2.65 runs per game, more than two runs fewer than any other qualifying member of the staff.

That support has been even less over Lowe's last three starts, as he's gone 1-0 with a 2.84 ERA while the offense has totaled four runs.

He was outstanding Tuesday, yielding one run and five hits in seven innings, but his offense failed to get him a run before winning 3-1 over Houston in 11.

"I'm just trying to do my part," Lowe said.

Lowe is 0-4 with a 5.58 ERA in five road starts versus the Angels, with his other seven appearances coming out of the bullpen. He hasn't pitched in Anaheim since surrendering seven runs in five innings of a 10-2 loss with the Dodgers on May 18, 2008.

The Angels (23-24) are scuffling at the plate during a 1-6 stretch, hitting .196 with 22 runs - almost half coming in the opener of this series.

Tyler Chatwood (2-2, 4.50) gets the ball trying to rebound from his worst - and shortest - outing of the season.

The 21-year-old right-hander was chased with one out in the third Tuesday after surrendering seven runs - five earned - and seven hits in a 14-0 loss at Oakland.

"He has great makeup," manager Mike Scioscia told the team's official website. "Sometimes when things go in the wrong direction, he tries to run through it. He got some pitches elevated (Tuesday)."

Chatwood has been more effective at home, going 1-1 with a 3.23 ERA in five starts at Angel Stadium, allowing two runs in 14 1-3 innings over his last two. He's 1-1 with a 7.43 ERA in three road starts.

Scioscia is away from the team, attending his son Matt's graduation from Notre Dame, where he lettered in baseball the past four years. Bench coach Rob Picciolo will handle the managerial duties, and Scioscia will be back for Monday's meeting with Oakland.

Tagged: Angels, Braves, Derek Lowe, Joe Mather, Jason Heyward

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