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Giants

Confident Braves Pitchers Set To Challenge Giants

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Derek Lowe

Pitcher Derek Lowe of the Atlanta Braves (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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ATLANTA (AP) – Derek Lowe isn’t ready to look past his Game 1 start for the Atlanta Braves against the San Francisco Giants in the NL division series.

At least not in public.

Manager Bobby Cox said Lowe, Tommy Hanson and Tim Hudson are the Braves’ first three starters in the series. Lowe will start in Thursday’s Game 1 at San Francisco against Tim Lincecum.

Cox said Lowe or rookie Brandon Beachy would start if a fourth game is needed. Lowe would be pitching on three days’ rest but would likely lobby with Cox to make the start.

“I’ve already talked to him about it, and I’ll leave it at that,” a smiling Lowe said following Tuesday’s workout at Turner Field.

Lowe is peaking just in time for the postseason.

He was 5-0 with a 1.17 ERA in his last five starts.

“If he throws like he’s been throwing his last five starts, he’ll pitch a great ballgame,” Cox said.

Lowe was 2-0 with a 2.38 ERA in two starts against the Giants this season. Overall, he was 16-12 with a 4.00 ERA.

The right-hander said his confidence “is as high as it’s been since I’ve been here.”

Lowe is the Braves’ most experienced postseason starter. He is 5-5 with a save and a 3.33 ERA in 21 postseason games with the Red Sox and Dodgers.

“I’ve been very fortunate in my career I’ve never gone more than one year without being in the playoffs,” he said.

Lincecum emerged as the most dominant pitcher in the National League in his first two full major league seasons. Back-to-back NL Cy Young Awards. Two All-Star selections, 526 strikeouts. All by the age of 25.

Now, the 16-game winner for the San Francisco Giants gets to take the ball for his most important start yet: Game 1 of the division series against the wild-card Atlanta Braves on Thursday night at AT&T Park.

Hudson leads the Braves with 17 wins, including the 8-7 victory over the Phillies on Sunday that helped clinch a playoff spot. He’s expected to face Giants lefty Jonathan Sanchez for game three in Atlanta.

Hanson is 10-11 with a 3.33 ERA and has been a hard-luck pitcher. He is the only pitcher in Atlanta history to have a losing record in at least 30 starts with an ERA at 3.50 or better. He was 2-1 with a 2.04 ERA in six September starts. Hanson will match up with Matt Cain in game two on Friday.

“Hanson has been on a roll,” Cox said. “Huddy needs the extra rest, in my opinion.”

Hanson said he will go to Lowe for advice after Thursday’s game.

“He’s been around for a while,” Hanson said. “It’s a lot of help to be able to talk to him about certain hitters and what they’re trying to do in certain situations.”

Right-hander Jair Jurrjens, who hasn’t pitched since Sept. 14 because of an injured right knee, was sent to Florida to pitch in an Instructional League game on Tuesday night.

It is possible Jurrjens could win a spot on the postseason roster, but his best chance to pitch again may come if the Braves advance to the NLCS.

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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