Atlanta lost a one-game series with the New York Mets before dropping a 9-2 decision versus the Nationals in Tuesday's series opener. But the National league Wild Card-leading Braves were able to regroup and evened this set with last night's 3-1 triumph behind an all-around performance from starting pitcher Derek Lowe.
Lowe homered for the first time in his career and held the Nationals to a run and three hits in six innings with six strikeouts and two walks.
"We'll take it. It's winding down and every win is big," said Lowe. "We know where we stand in the division, but you can't get complacent. Just because you build a good lead it doesn't mean that you can coast. We want to go out there and play like we have all year. The goal is to catch the Phillies."
All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel tossed a scoreless ninth to set a new major- league rookie record with his 41st save. Rangers closer Neftali Feliz set the record last season. Chipper Jones homered for the 450th time in his career for Atlanta, which is 7 1/2 games behind Philadelphia in the NL East and 8 1/2 games in front of St. Louis for the final playoff berth in the Senior Circuit.
The Braves won for the eighth time in 11 tries and will also host Los Angeles on their homestand. They look to earn a series triumph tonight with Tim Hudson on the hill and the right-hander's trying to get back into the win column after his unbeaten streak was halted by the Mets in Friday's 6-0 loss. Hudson allowed four runs and a season-high 11 hits in 6 1/3 innings, but is still 13-8 with a 3.10 earned run average in 27 starts.
Hudson beat the Nationals the last time he faced them in an 11-1 win on July 15 and is 12-3 with a 1.97 ERA in 21 career starts in this matchup. He is 8-4 in 16 starts at Turner Field this season.
Washington lost for the seventh time in eight tries Wednesday and John Lannan pitched well in defeat. Lannan was reached for three runs -- two earned -- and seven hits, including two homers, in seven innings.
"I thought Lannan pitched a decent ballgame. He gave up a couple of home runs. I thought -- by and large -- he kept us in the ballgame," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. "That's all you could ask for from a starter."
Michael Morse homered and Ian Desmond record two hits in a losing cause. The Nats are 1-4 on a six-game road trip and will return to the nation's capital after this set to start a 10-game homestand versus the Mets, Dodgers and Astros.
Toeing the rubber for Washington Thursday will be Chien-Ming Wang, who will make his seventh start of the season and is 2-2 with a 3.82 ERA. Wang has posted consecutive no-decisions since winning back-to-back starts and was last in action during a 4-3 loss at Cincinnati last Friday. He gave up two runs -- one earned -- in six innings that day.
Wang lost to Atlanta on Aug. 3 this season, as the Braves pounded the Taiwanese right-hander for seven hits and six runs, two of which were earned, in five innings. He is 0-2 with a 3.50 ERA in three career starts against Atlanta.
The 2011 series between the Braves and Nationals is tied at 7-7.