Marlins-Braves Preview

To give his Atlanta Braves the best chance of securing a playoff

berth, Bobby Cox has decided to start his two best pitchers on

short rest.

He got the desired result from his first ace.

One day after Tim Hudson shut down the Florida Marlins on three

days’ rest, Derek Lowe looks to do the same when he takes the ball

for the wild card-leading Braves in Wednesday’s series finale at

Turner Field.

Hudson limited the Marlins to one run in six innings and Eric

Hinske hit a pinch-hit, two-run homer to help Atlanta (89-69) win

3-2 on Tuesday and move 1 1/2 games ahead of San Diego in the

wild-card race.

“Hopefully, it’s contagious,” Hinske said. “It’s do or die time.

We’ve got to win every game now.”

The Braves will try to close in on their first postseason berth

since 2005 without All-Star Martin Prado, who found out before

Tuesday’s game that he’ll be unavailable for any playoffs after an

MRI showed he tore an oblique muscle. Prado is replaced by Brooks

Conrad, who had an RBI triple and scored on Hinske’s homer.

“It’s a big blow, but we can’t use it as an excuse,” Hudson

said.

By starting on three days’ rest, Hudson is now on track to pitch

in Sunday’s finale against Philadelphia on regular rest. Cox has

also pushed Lowe (15-12, 4.07 ERA) up a day so he could potentially

start a one-game playoff for the wild card Monday also on his

normal four days’ rest.

Lowe hasn’t started on three days’ rest since Game 4 of the 2008

NLCS for Los Angeles. He gave up two runs in five innings to

Philadelphia.

Lowe’s coming off a somewhat taxing outing, throwing 103 pitches

over five innings while allowing five hits and a walk in Saturday’s

5-0 win over Washington. Although it wasn’t his best performance,

the sinkerballer improved to 4-0 with a 1.08 ERA in his last four

starts.

Immediately before his winning streak, Lowe was tagged for five

runs and six hits and was pulled after three innings in a 7-3 win

over Florida. The right-hander hasn’t had much luck against the

Marlins (77-80) lately, recording an 8.37 ERA in five starts since

the start of last season.

Dan Uggla has given Lowe the most problems, batting .429 with

two home runs and three doubles in 28 at-bats.

Uggla hit his 32nd homer Tuesday to reach 100 RBIs for the first

time. The two-time All-Star second baseman has five home runs and

12 RBIs in his last 12 games against the Braves.

Although Lowe has regularly struggled against the Marlins,

Atlanta’s offense shouldn’t have much trouble against Andrew Miller

(1-4, 8.19), Florida’s scheduled starter.

Miller has recorded a 12.89 ERA in losing his last four starts,

while yielding 31 hits and 12 walks in 14 2-3 innings. In his sixth

start of the season in Milwaukee on Friday, the left-hander gave up

four runs and eight hits in 4 1-3 innings of a 6-2 loss.

“I’m worried about getting back to where I think I can be,”

Miller said. “I have shown flashes, I feel like, but I’ve never

been consistent.”

One of those flashes of promise came against the Braves on Sept.

3, when Miller permitted a run and seven hits in five innings of a

6-1 victory. He is 3-0 with a 2.61 ERA in four career starts

against Atlanta.