Lowe gave up a typical-for-this-season five runs in four-plus innings to the Philadelphia Phillies, starting with a homer to Chase Utley in the first inning. Three runs later, Lowe was yanked after Jimmy Rollins reached to lead off the fifth inning. Though Arodys Vizcaino retired Utley, he then gave up a two-run bomb to Hunter Pence that seemed to seal the game early on.
"When you don’t pitch, you kind of look the way we did tonight," Fredi Gonzalez said. "Yet we’ve got one game to win tomorrow, then a new month, and the guys we need to win tomorrow are out there. I believe in all those guys, and we’ll get it done."
But no one was harder on Lowe than the man himself.
"If you’re 9-17 with a 5 ERA, c’mon. I’m not going to sit here and say if I had a bounce here or a bounce there. I’m man enough to sit here and say I’ve had a terrible year. But again, we have a chance," Lowe said.
In the meantime, Roy Oswalt carved up the Braves over six innings, giving up only three hits and never getting in any real trouble. Oswalt had four strikeouts in the spoiler role, even though the Phillies have already clinched the National League East.
To add injury to insult, Alex Gonzalez had to leave the game in the second inning after re-aggravating his strained calf, leaving Jack Wilson to play in place of him.
In Houston, the St. Louis Cardinals blew out the Houston Astros to complete what a historic collapse. The Braves, who were up 8.5 games on Sept. 1, are now 3-7 in their last 10 games, losers of four straight and tied with the Cardinals for the Wild Card lead, making Wednesday's game completely do or die.
"It’s like we’re living out a bad dream," Chipper Jones said. "You really never expect this to happen to you but there are a lot of things that are contributing to it, whether it’s injuries, whether it’s just the bats falling silent at the most inopportune time of the season. It happens. It’s hard when you have a young team to keep it from snowballing."
Though the Braves no longer truly control their own destiny, a win coupled with a Cardinals loss would mean clinching the Wild Card for Atlanta. If the clubs end the regular season with identical records, a one-game playoff will be held in St. Louis on Thursday at 8:07 EDT.
"Tomorrow is the most important game of the the season. We have to come out and try to win the game, take whatever situations present themselves," Jason Heyward said.
Fortunately for the Braves, they will be relying on ace Tim Hudson (16-10, 3.23 ERA), while the Phillies will run out Joe Blanton (1-2, 5.03 ERA) on limited innings and use multiple pitchers. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 EDT.
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