Braves stave off humiliation, defeat Pirates, 9-3

When all else fails, use reverse psychology.  I hope you guys knew I was kidding with my exalting preview of tonight's game, and apparently, the ruse worked.  ZACH DUKE couldn't even convert four outs, and Derek Lowe earned his money tonight, as the Braves unleashed all the hits that eluded them the previous two nights, and clobbered the Pirates by a score of 9-3 to prevent the sweep, and end this abysmal road trip on a positive note.

Unfortunately, the Phillies did some clobbering of their own, and don't be fooled by the final score, they mauled the Marlins, 10-6, so they remain in first place by 0.5 games.  The Phillies have an off-day tomorrow, and it's off to hostile New York, so it's technically feasible for the Braves to reclaim first place, albeit via tie, if we can get the job done at home-sweet-home against the Cardinals, whom we're starting a pivotal four-game series with tomorrow.

Anyway, as elated as I am to have seen the Braves finally get their offense going, the most positive thing about the entire evening was the performance of Derek Lowe.  Questioned, whether or not he was even going to pitch today, he silenced all doubters (including a lot of us, myself included), and silenced the Pirates in six efficient innings.  Only in the first and fifth innings did Lowe see any difficulty, with the latter inning one run actually plating, but he staved off any real damage by inducing ground ball after ground ball.  In the end, Derek Lowe had induced 12 ground ball outs, one GIDP.  That's how you know a sinker is really on that day.  Relievers Scott Proctor and Mike Dunn pitched perfectly in the 7th and 8th innings, both getting two strikeouts apiece.  Cristhian Martínez had a poor outing, and forfeited two earned runs on four hits and a walk, which caused Bobby to relieve him in place of Billy Wagner, who needed to get some work in to finish out the game.

The Bobby Cox Compliment (DER(R)EK) Sandwich:  Ehhh, you really gotta tip your cap to Derek Lowe tonight, he pitched real well.  He had the sinker going as well as I've ever seen it.  Despite the great offensive outburst, there's always one guy who doesn't always get in on the fun, and it was Brian McCann, who went 0-4.  Ehhh, it was good to see Derrek Lee have a good night too, he's been hitting the ball real well since joining the team, he's just been unlucky hitting them right at people, but tonight he was finding the holes, and got some big RBI hits.

But seriously, it was nice to see the offense actually get the monkey off their back tonight.  Six Braves finished the night with multi-hits.  I'm also relieved that the team didn't necessarily need to rely on the long ball either, and was getting the job done with key hitting and patience.  Some might still look at the 13 LOB on the night as a sour mark, but considering the rate in which the Braves were putting runners on, it's a little more acceptable.

Enjoy tonight's win, but not for too long.  There's no off-day for us, and it's back home, to host the Cards for four, with tough Adam Wainwright taking the hill first for the Red Birds.  Home may be where the heart is, but it's hard for me to count any team with Albert Pujols on it as anything but a difficult task.

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