Lowe gives up homer to Hunter in loss to Angels

Derek Lowe was pleased with his effort, not with the quality of his pitches.

Torii Hunter ended a home run drought of 28 games with a go-ahead two-run shot, rookie Tyler Chatwood pitched seven strong innings and the Los Angeles Angels beat the Atlanta Braves 4-1 on Sunday in the rubber game of their interleague series.

"I had noncompetitive stuff, so I was happy I was able to make it as far as I did," Lowe said. "It was one of those days where my body didn't feel too good, and I was throwing 85 miles an hour trying to get those guys out."

Lowe (3-4) threw 108 pitches over six innings, allowing three runs, five hits and a season-high five walks while striking out five. It was the fifth time this season that the 37-year-old right-hander made 100 or more pitches without reaching the seventh.

"Derek's one of those guys who will rack up some pitch counts," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "But everything considered, I thought he gave us his best effort today, really. I mean, you'd like your starter to go deeper in these games, but he gave us everything he had and he pitched well enough to win."

Joe Mather, who helped rally the Braves from a 4-0 deficit Saturday night with a three-run homer and a go-ahead double in the 12th inning of a 5-4 victory, opened the scoring against Chatwood with a run-scoring single.

But Hunter gave the Angels a 2-1 lead in the fourth with his fifth homer and the sixth allowed this season by Lowe. The Angels' four-time All-Star drove a 2-1 pitch to left field after a leadoff walk to Bobby Abreu, putting Hunter within seven RBIs of 1,000.

"The pitch to Hunter on the home run was a hanging breaking ball," Lowe said. "If you make that pitch down and away, you're going to have a lot more success. It was a tight game, and one pitch made the difference."

Hunter ended a drought of 98 at-bats since his two-run shot against Boston's Josh Beckett on April 21 at Anaheim.

"I can't remember that far back," he said. "I hadn't seen one of those in a while. I've seen them on TV and in the movies, but it's a lot of fun to get one out of the way for this month.

"All night I was thinking about what kind of approach I was going to take into the game today," Hunter added. "And with a guy like Derek Lowe, you've just got to get the ball up and hope you can get under it and get something started. He's a groundball pitcher and he doesn't make many mistakes, but I was able to capitalize on a mistake."

Hunter also led off the sixth with a double and scored on a groundout by rookie Alexi Amarista. Abreu drove in the Angels' final run in the seventh with his 534th double, tying Lou Gehrig for 32nd place on the career list.

The game began inauspiciously for the Braves when leadoff hitter Nate McLouth checked his swing on a 1-2 pitch in the dirt and strained the oblique muscle in his left side. Pinch-hitter Diory Hernandez had to finish the at-bat and grounded out before getting his glove and going to third base — forcing Martin Prado, right fielder Mather and left fielder Eric Hinske to switch from their original defensive positions.

After the game, the Braves placed left fielder Jason Heyward on the 15-day disabled list because of stiffness in his right shoulder and recalled outfielder Wilkin Ramirez from Triple-A Gwinnett.

"Teams that can survive the injury bug are going to be there at the end, and we're going through that right now a little bit," Gonzalez said. "But I think this team, mentally, is going to survive that."

Chatwood (3-2) allowed a run and five hits, struck out six and walked two. It was the third time in the right-hander's last four starts that he allowed only one run, including a pair of no-decisions at Angel Stadium against the Indians and White Sox. Last Tuesday, Chatwood lasted only 2 1-3 innings in a 14-0 loss at Oakland after giving up seven runs — five earned.

Scott Downs pitched a perfect eighth and Jordan Walden got three outs for his eighth save in 11 chances.

The Angels, who had lost six of seven, got back to the .500 mark while manager Mike Scioscia was in South Bend, Ind., attending his son Matt's graduation from Notre Dame. Bench coach Rob Picciolo ran the club during Scioscia's absence.

NOTES: Braves RHP Tim Hudson, who gave up eight runs over 3 2-3 innings and hit three batters during his 9-0 loss to the Angels on Friday night, returned to Atlanta to have his back examined is expected to miss his scheduled start Wednesday at Pittsburgh. LHP Mike Minor will be recalled from Triple-A to make his 10th big league start, and a corresponding move will be made Wednesday. ... Mather's career-high four RBIs on Saturday made him the first Braves player to drive in that many runs from the ninth spot in the batting order since June 8, 1959, when RHP Lew Burdette went 4 for 4 with a three-run double and an RBI double against the Chicago Cubs at Milwaukee's County Stadium. ... Chipper Jones, who has played a season-high six straight games without an RBI, got the day off. Jones' 1,518 RBI are the second-most by a switch-hitter behind Eddie Murray's 1,917. ... The Braves had only two hits after Prado's one-out single in the third.