Winning close games has been Atlanta's forte so far this week. Rookie closer Craig Kimbrel has certainly been a big part of that.
Fresh off a series victory over one playoff-contending team from the west, the Braves are set to host another this weekend, beginning with tonight's opener of a three-game series against the National League West-leading Arizona Diamondbacks at Turner Field.
Atlanta took three of four from the defending champion Giants to begin the week, winning each of their games by one run. Kimbrel closed out Thursday's 1-0 finale with his 37th save of the season, setting an NL single-season rookie record originally set by Todd Worrell with the Cardinals in 1986.
The most saves ever recorded by a rookie in a single season was set by Neftali Feliz a year ago with Texas as he had 40.
Kimbrel was not the lone hero last night. Mike Minor outdueled San Francisco's Tim Lincecum over six scoreless innings that also featured nine strikeouts and Chipper Jones supplied the game's only run with a home run off the Giants' ace.
"You don't think you're going to get too many homers off Lincecum," Jones said. "One mistake is all we needed. That game goes to Mike Minor and the bullpen. They were awesome."
Atlanta also gave Arizona a hand as the Diamondbacks remained 2 1/2 games in front of the Giants for first place in the NL West despite losing back-to-back games to the Phillies to close out a three-game series. They dropped a rain- soaked 4-1 decision on Thursday night.
Ian Kennedy allowed three runs over three innings and did not return following a two-hour, 17-minute rain delay. He was charged with the loss, snapping his career-long, seven-game winning streak.
Paul Goldschmidt homered for a second straight night for Arizona, which lost its first road series since July 1-3 at Oakland.
"They shut us down," Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said of the Phillies. "We had 11 hits in three games. We put no pressure on them. We were fortunate to win one of the games. They pitched us a certain way and we didn't make adjustments we needed to make."
Hoping to get the Diamondbacks on track will be Daniel Hudson, who is set to face the Braves for the first time in his career.
Hudson has split his last six decisions, but is coming off a win over the Mets on Saturday. The right-hander was charged with four runs -- two earned -- on eight hits and pitched at least eight innings for the fifth time in 11 starts.
"I was just trying to make quality pitches and get the team off the field as quick as possible," Hudson said.
The 24-year-old bounced back after lasting just three innings in a setback to Houston on Aug. 8 and is 12-8 with a 3.76 earned run average on the season.
Derek Lowe seeks to put some recent struggles behind him when he goes for the Braves this evening.
The 38-year-old is 7-11 with a 4.89 ERA in 26 starts this season, but has pitched to a 6.30 ERA in his past 12 outings. Lowe has lost four of his past five starts, including Saturday versus the Cubs after giving up five runs on 10 hits over six innings, though he didn't feel as though he pitched that bad.
"That's the scary thing of this game," said Lowe, who struck out six without a walk. "I really, looking back at it, wouldn't have changed many pitches. I can say that [catcher] David [Ross] did a great job and for the most part we executed, and 10 hits later, another loss."
The right-hander will make the 20th start of his career versus the D-Backs and is 6-9 against them with a 4.14 ERA.
Arizona swept a brief two-game series over Atlanta at home back on May 18-19, but has lost two of three at Turner Field in each of the previous two seasons.