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Cox picks Lowe, Hanson and Hudson as starters

Derek Lowe wasn't ready to look past his Game 1 start for the Braves against the Giants in the NL division series on Tuesday.

At least not in public.

Manager Bobby Cox said Lowe, Tommy Hanson and Tim Hudson are the Braves' first three starters in the series. Lowe will start in Thursday's Game 1 at San Francisco against Tim Lincecum.

Cox said Lowe or rookie Brandon Beachy would start if a fourth game is needed. Lowe would be pitching on three days' rest but would likely lobby with Cox to make the start.

"I've already talked to him about it, and I'll leave it at that," a smiling Lowe said following Tuesday's workout at Turner Field.

Lowe is peaking just in time for the postseason.

He was 5-0 with a 1.17 ERA in his last five starts.

"If he throws like he's been throwing his last five starts, he'll pitch a great ballgame," Cox said.

Lowe was 2-0 with a 2.38 ERA in two starts against the Giants this season. Overall, he was 16-12 with a 4.00 ERA.

The right-hander said his confidence "is as high as it's been since I've been here."

Lowe is the Braves' most experienced postseason starter. He is 5-5 with a save and a 3.33 ERA in 21 postseason games with the Red Sox and Dodgers.

"I've been very fortunate in my career I've never gone more than one year without being in the playoffs," he said.

Cox said he will name his postseason roster on Thursday. Some answers came Tuesday.

Rookie first baseman Freddie Freeman, right-hander Takashi Saito, left-hander Eric O'Flaherty and rookie left-hander Mike Minor will not be on the roster.

Freeman finished the season with Atlanta, but the Braves have Derrek Lee and Troy Glaus at first base and need the roster spot for a backup middle infielder, most likely Diory Hernandez.

Saito, who has been slowed by a sore shoulder, threw in the bullpen during the workout and then said he was told he won't be on the postseason roster.

Cox said O'Flaherty, who has suffered from blurred vision and hasn't pitched since Sept. 20, "just can't go."

Cox said he is taking "a bunch" of extra players to San Francisco who will not be on the postseason roster. He said he wants reserves close by in case he needs to replace an injured player.

Rookie catcher J.C. Boscan will be one of the emergency players with the team.

"You can sub anybody now, so it makes it easy," Cox said. An injured player who is replaced must miss the remainder of the series and the next postseason series.

Hudson leads the Braves with 17 wins, including the 8-7 victory over the Phillies on Sunday that helped clinch a playoff spot.

Hanson is 10-11 with a 3.33 ERA and has been a hard-luck pitcher. He is the only pitcher in Atlanta history to have a losing record in at least 30 starts with an ERA at 3.50 or better. He was 2-1 with a 2.04 ERA in six September starts.

"Hanson has been on a roll," Cox said. "Huddy needs the extra rest, in my opinion."

Hanson said he will go to Lowe for advice after Thursday's game.

"He's been around for a while," Hanson said. "It's a lot of help to be able to talk to him about certain hitters and what they're trying to do in certain situations."

Right-hander Jair Jurrjens, who hasn't pitched since Sept. 14 because of an injured right knee, was sent to Florida to pitch in an Instructional League game on Tuesday night.

It is possible Jurrjens could win a spot on the postseason roster, but his best chance to pitch again may come if the Braves advance to the NLCS.