|Atlanta (87-68) «||0||0||1||0||0||4||0||0||0||5||9||2|
WASHINGTON --Bobby Cox enjoyed a little champagne and a cigar after earning his 2,500th victory as a major league manager.
And it turns out it was all a big surprise to him.
"I had no clue during the game," Cox said.
Atlanta's longtime skipper earned a landmark victory at an opportune time Saturday, getting five effective innings from Derek Lowe and a three-run homer from Alex Gonzalez in the Braves' crucial 5-0 victory over the Washington Nationals.
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The Braves snapped a four-game losing streak that put them a half-game behind San Diego in the NL wild-card race. San Diego hosts Cincinnati later Saturday.
"We could breathe a little bit. We haven't been breathing much, trying to catch people," Cox said. "It was a good win today, maybe get the team rolling, get a little momentum going."
The 69-year-old Cox, set to retire at the end of the season, became the fourth major league manager to reach 2,500 wins. He is seeking his 16th postseason appearance.
Cox was walking out of the dugout to congratulate his team after the big win and was about to throw away the lineup cards when pitching coach Roger McDowell stopped him.
"I never thought I'd live that long," Cox laughed.
Lowe (15-12) allowed five hits, walked one and struck out four, improving to 4-0 with a 1.08 ERA in his last four starts. The right-hander has 13 scoreless innings in two games against the Nationals during his winning streak.
"I felt in control of the game, but the pitch count was outrageous," said Lowe, who finished with 103 pitches. "For some reason, I wasn't able to get quick outs or easy innings."
Lowe wiggled out of a jam in his final inning after his defense put him in a tough spot. With two out, Ian Desmond grounded to Derrek Lee at first, but the ball squirted under his glove. Adam Dunn flied to center, and Nate McLouth dropped the ball for an other error. But Lowe got Michael Morse to bounce out to end the inning.
The Braves scored four times in the sixth to take a 5-0 lead. They had just seven runs during their losing streak.
Lee doubled in Martin Prado with one out and McLouth followed with an infield single. Gonzalez then hit a drive to left for his 23rd homer.
Yunesky Maya (0-3) allowed five runs, four earned, and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings. The Cuban defector struck out one and walked three in his fourth major league start.
"Just that one inning that kind of went away," Maya said through a translator.
The Nationals had won a season-high four straight.
On Saturday morning, Cox relaxed in the visitors' dugout, talking about the last night he might spend on a major league road trip. He was going to dinner with a friend, and admitted he was a little embarrassed by all the attention his retirement has attracted.
"We would like nothing more than to put him back in the playoff atmosphere and in the games that matter," Braves catcher Brian McCann said. "We're striving to do that right now."
|Bobby Cox acknowledges the fans after his team shut out the Nationals to give Cox his 2,500 career victory. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Omar Infante, 2B||4||0||0||0||1||0||2||.329|
|Jason Heyward, RF||5||0||1||0||0||3||2||.281|
|Martin Prado, 3B||4||1||1||0||1||1||3||.306|
|Brian McCann, C||4||0||1||0||0||0||2||.274|
|David Ross, C||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||.274|
|Derrek Lee, 1B||2||1||1||1||2||0||0||.258|
|Freddie Freeman, PR-1B||1||0||0||0||0||1||2||.118|
|Nate McLouth, CF||3||1||2||0||1||0||0||.188|
|Alex Gonzalez, SS||3||1||1||3||1||1||2||.260|
|Melky Cabrera, LF||4||0||1||0||0||1||4||.255|
|Derek Lowe, P||1||1||1||0||0||0||0||.157|
|a- Eric Hinske, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.254|
|Peter Moylan, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Jonny Venters, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|b- Brooks Conrad, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||2||.235|
|Craig Kimbrel, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Billy Wagner, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a-grounded out for Lowe in the 6th|
|b-struck out for Venters in the 8th|
|2B - Derrek Lee (30, Maya), Derek Lowe (4, Maya)|
|HR - Alex Gonzalez (23, Maya)|
|SH - Derek Lowe (10)|
|RBI - Derrek Lee (74), Alex Gonzalez 3 (88)|
|Team LOB - 9|
|DP - Prado-Infante-Lee|
|E - Derrek Lee (7, Misplayed grounder), Nate McLouth (2, Dropped line drive)|
|Derek Lowe (W,15-12)||5||5||0||0||1||4||0||4.07|
|WP - Craig Kimbrel (3)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Derek Lowe 103-64, Peter Moylan 15-9, Jonny Venters 27-15, Craig Kimbrel 16-9, Billy Wagner 12-8|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Derek Lowe 9-4, Peter Moylan 1-0, Jonny Venters 1-0, Billy Wagner 1-1|
|Batters Faced - Derek Lowe 23, Peter Moylan 3, Jonny Venters 5, Craig Kimbrel 4, Billy Wagner 4|
|Nyjer Morgan, CF||5||0||1||0||0||1||2||.258|
|Roger Bernadina, LF||4||0||1||0||0||1||2||.256|
|Joe Bisenius, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Collin Balester, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a- Kevin Mench, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||.130|
|Ian Desmond, SS||4||0||0||0||1||2||3||.278|
|Adam Dunn, 1B||3||0||0||0||1||1||3||.265|
|Michael Morse, RF||3||0||0||0||1||1||4||.296|
|Adam Kennedy, 2B||3||0||0||0||1||0||1||.251|
|Wilson Ramos, C||4||0||1||0||0||0||2||.273|
|Alberto Gonzalez, 3B||4||0||2||0||0||2||1||.269|
|Yunesky Maya, P||2||0||0||0||0||1||3||.167|
|Craig Stammen, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.237|
|b- Justin Maxwell, PH-LF||1||0||1||0||1||0||0||.147|
|a-grounded out for Balester in the 9th|
|b-walked for Stammen in the 7th|
|2B - Nyjer Morgan (16, Lowe), Justin Maxwell (5, Wagner)|
|Team LOB - 12|
|DP - Kennedy-Dunn|
|E - Alberto Gonzalez (5, Throwing)|
|Yunesky Maya (L,0-3)||5.1||8||5||4||3||1||1||6.43|
|WP - Yunesky Maya (1)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Yunesky Maya 92-62, Craig Stammen 24-15, Joe Bisenius 22-10, Collin Balester 22-11|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Yunesky Maya 3-10, Craig Stammen 2-2|
|Batters Faced - Yunesky Maya 25, Craig Stammen 6, Joe Bisenius 5, Collin Balester 5|
|Attendance - 23824|
|Game Time - 3:04|
|Temperature - 88|
|Umpires - Home - Mike Everitt, First Base - Adrian Johnson, Second Base - Andy Fletcher, Third Base - Tim McClelland|