ATLANTA – The Braves moved closer to their first playoff berth since 2005, beating the Florida Marlins 5-1 Wednesday to complete a three-game sweep behind Derek Lowe's fifth win of September and Brooks Conrad's three-run homer.
In its final season under manager Bobby Cox, Atlanta began the day 1½ games ahead of San Diego in the NL wild-card race.
Atlanta (90-69) reached 90 wins for the 15th time in 25 years under the 69-year-old Cox, who is retiring after the season. The Braves won 14 straight division titles under Cox but have missed out on the playoffs for four straight seasons.
Atlanta closes at home against NL East champion Philadelphia with a three-game series starting Friday night.
Pitching on three days' rest, Lowe (16-12) gave up one run and seven hits in 5 2-3 innings and struck out nine. He is 5-0 with a 1.17 ERA this month with 29 strikeouts and three walks in 30 2-3 innings, and his 16 wins matched Tim Hudson for the team high.
Conrad, a 30-year-old rookie, homered in the third off Andrew Miller (1-5). Conrad made his second straight start after Martin Prado sustained a torn oblique muscle and a bruised hip Monday. Prado, an All-Star with a .307 batting average, will miss the playoffs if the Braves advance.
Conrad, usually a pinch-hitter and defensive substitute, has eight homers — all before Wednesday were from the seventh inning on.
Miller gave up four run, four hits and four walks in three innings as the Marlins lost their fourth straight. He has allowed four or more runs in five straight starts, going 0-5 with a 12.74 ERA in that span.
Mike Stanton hit an RBI single in the sixth.
Pinch-hitter Freddie Freeman doubled in the ninth and scored on Steven Cishek's bases-loaded walk to Eric Hinske.
Notes: Braves RHP Jair Jurrjens, who hasn't pitched since Sept. 14 because of an injured right knee, threw in the bullpen before the game. Jurrjens said the discomfort was "not as bad" and he may be available to pitch behind rookie RHP Brandon Beachy if needed on Friday. Jurrjens hopes to be available to start if the Braves make the playoffs. "We'll see how it rebounds tomorrow," he said. ... Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez said OF Cameron Maybin felt better on Wednesday but "more than likely" will miss the rest of the season with a lower back injury sustained when he crashed into the wall Tuesday. Rodriguez said Maybin couldn't sleep Tuesday night. ... RHP Takashi Saito (sore right shoulder) also threw in the bullpen and said he's ready to pitch.