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Veteran Lowe thrives on playoff atmosphere

Veteran Lowe thrives on playoff atmosphere

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ATLANTA -- Braves manager Bobby Cox officially designated Derek Lowe as his starter against the Giants on Monday night in Game 4 of their National League Division Series at Turner Field.

Cox also said on Sunday that Tommy Hanson will start Game 5, if it's necessary, to decide the best-of-five series on Wednesday night in San Francisco.

Lowe, who lost Game 1, 1-0, at AT&T Park on Thursday, will be pitching on three days' rest. Hanson, who started and threw only 61 pitches in Friday's 5-4, 11-inning victory in Game 2, will be going on his regular cycle. Hanson was lifted after four innings.

"This time of year, your adrenaline kicks in," Lowe said on Sunday before the teams, tied at a game apiece, met in Game 3. "I'll make myself available for Game 5 if there's one. I've done it before. You can't really explain how your body is able to bounce back, knowing what's on the line.

Tale of the Tape: NLDS Game 1
2010 Regular Season
Overall: 33 GS, 16-12, 4.00 ERA, 61 BB, 136 Ks
Overall: 18 GS, 7-6, 3.00 ERA, 26 BB, 86 Ks
Key stat: 3-1, 4.40 ERA in 5 starts on three days' rest
Key stat: 1.13 ERA (4 runs in 32 IP) in Sept.
Postseason
2010: 1 GS, 0-1, 1.69 ERA
Career: 22 G (11 GS), 5-6, 3.24 ERA
2010: N/A
Career: N/A
At Turner Field
2010: 17 GS, 10-5, 3.72 ERA Career: 40 GS, 18-11, 3.92 ERA
2010: N/A Career: N/A
Against this opponent
2010: 3 GS, 2-1, 2.16 ERA Career: 17 GS, 7-5, 3.02 ERA
2010: N/A Career: N/A
Loves to face: Freddy Sanchez (3-for-17)
Hates to face: Aaron Rowand (11-for-23)
Loves to face: N/A
Hates to face: N/A
Game breakdown
Why he'll win: Postseason vet has done it before
Why he'll win: Competitive rookie hasn't shown fear
Pitcher beware: Not fully rested
Pitcher beware: First postseason start
Bottom line: Savvy veteran
Bottom line: Back on track

"During the season, you probably couldn't continue to do this, but I've been fortunate to be on a lot of playoff teams and have situations present themselves to pitch on short rest. I've always loved this time of year. You'd rather be the guy out there failing than not trying."

Lowe was bested in Game 1 by Tim Lincecum, who threw a two-hit shutout and struck out 14. Lowe left in the sixth inning with one out and runners on first and third. Jonny Venters came on and induced an inning-ending double play to Pablo Sandoval.

Lowe threw 96 pitches, allowed four hits and walked four (one intentionally). The Giants' only run scored in the fourth inning on a Cody Ross single that bounced under Omar Infante's glove.

"We looked at a lot of video of their offense and came up with a really good game plan," Lowe said about his approach to Game 1. "We didn't deviate. As far as what we'll do [Monday] night, we'll make a few adjustments, but this probably isn't the place to tell everyone about it.

"It was one of those games when every pitch seemed like it was going to be your last. There wasn't any room for error. Hopefully, tomorrow I can get a few early runs and cut the walks down."

Lowe has pitched on short rest before in the postseason.

In 2004 as the Red Sox came back from a 3-0 deficit in the American League Championship Series against the Yankees, Lowe started Game 4 at Fenway Park on Oct. 17 and was the starter again on two days' rest in Game 7 at the old Yankee Stadium on Oct. 20. Lowe was not the pitcher of record as the Red Sox won Game 4 in 12 innings. He did get the win in Game 7 as Boston built a 6-0 lead in the second inning and won, 10-3.

Two years ago in the NLCS for the Dodgers against the Phillies, Lowe was the Game 1 starter on Oct. 9 at Philadelphia and on three days' rest on Oct. 13 at Dodger Stadium. Lowe took the loss in Game 1 and was not the pitcher of record as the Dodgers also dropped Game 4.

Lowe said that he could pitch on two days' rest now, if asked.

"Especially with [closer] Billy [Wagner] going down, maybe I can get my 86th save," Lowe jokingly said. "The New York game was different, because we scored so many runs early. That definitely made it a lot easier. But again, this time of year your body responds better than it ever does during the [regular] season because of adrenaline and the excitement of the games.

"You set your mind because this is what you want to do. You have a workout program all year long -- not just to get you through the regular season, but to get you through the World Series."

Lowe was so sure of his stamina that Cox said the veteran right-hander had lobbied him for the Game 4 start on three days' rest even before the series opened.

"It was the day before we went to San Francisco, and I just wanted to make him aware that it was an option," Lowe said. "I know they threw around a couple of scenarios, and I just wanted to let him know that it wouldn't be a problem. And then they told me two days ago, during batting practice, that I would end up pitching Game 4."

Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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