ATLANTA -- Derek Lowe looked down as he heard boos while walking off the field in the third inning, and he spoke in unusually soft, pained tones following the game.
A long season is wearing on Lowe just when the Atlanta Braves most need his veteran leadership.
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Lowe suffered his shortest start in two years as David Wright drove in five runs with two homers, leading the New York Mets to a 12-2 win over the Braves on Friday night.The loss cut Atlanta's lead over St. Louis in the NL wild-card race to 3 1/2 games.Lowe knows he is needed because the Braves are missing Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson from their rotation."I've said my whole career hitters will tell you how your stuff is," Lowe said after giving up nine hits and six runs in only 2 1/3 innings. "It was just a lot of hits. It was just terrible. That's all you really can say."The Mets, responding to criticism from manager Terry Collins, matched their season high with 20 hits and ended a six-game losing streak.Lowe (9-15) lost his third straight start. The right-hander had his shortest outing since also lasting 2 1/3 innings on June 14, 2009, at Baltimore. His ERA rose to 4.94."This has been a long year," he said. "I mean, this is probably my worst year I've ever had. Right now you obviously feel discouraged and frustrated and all those things, but next time around you've got to find a way to figure it out because this is just bad pitching for too long."Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said he still has confidence in Lowe. Gonzalez has few options as his rotation already includes three rookies: Brandon Beachy, Mike Minor and Randall Delgado.Hanson, who has a sore right shoulder, has a throwing session planned for Saturday. He could be sent to the Instructional League next week with the hope he'll return to the Braves before the end of the season.Asked if there is time for Hanson, who has been on the disabled list since Aug. 7, to pitch in the playoffs, Gonzalez said "Possibly. It'll be close."Jurrjens has a bone bruise on his right knee. Asked if Jurrjens has a chance to be ready for a division series, Gonzalez said "Probably not."The Braves have 11 games remaining in the regular season. The Cardinals gained ground by beating the Phillies.Chris Capuano (11-12) gave up two runs on six hits in five innings to earn his second win in three weeks against the Braves. He pitched a two-hit shutout in a 6-0 win over the Braves in New York on Aug. 26.Lowe gave up a two-run homer to Wright and a two-run single to Ruben Tejada in the first inning. He left after giving up Jose Thole's two-run single for New York's fourth hit of the third inning.Rookie Julio Teheran gave up Wright's three-run homer and Nick Evans' run-scoring single in the fourth.Lucas Duda had four hits for New York. Wright, Evans, Jose Reyes and Thole each had three hits."The way we've been swinging the bats, if we can score more than one it's a good night for us," Wright said. "Hopefully, this is the start of something."Martin Prado hit a homer in the second off Capuano. Michael Bourn tripled and scored on Chipper Jones' fly ball in the first.Capuano pitched out of a fifth-inning jam after pinch-hitter Antoan Richardson singled and moved to third on Bourn's single. Following a visit from pitching coach Dan Warthen, Capuano struck out Jones, Freddie Freeman and Dan Uggla.After a 10-1 loss to Washington on Thursday ended a 1-8 homestand, Collins said "The perception I have right now: We folded it up. And I won't stand for that."Before Friday's game, Collins said he believed his team's problem was execution, not effort."We didn't need any extra incentive," Capuano said. "We all know what's going on. We're all proud individuals."There were two strong defensive plays.Mets left fielder Jason Bay reached over the wall to take a home run away from Alex Gonzalez to end the fourth. Bay fell to the warning track before taking the ball out of his glove to show he made the catch.Alex Gonzalez returned the favor in the seventh when he went deep into the hole at shortstop to field a grounder from Bay. Gonzalez, still running toward third, turned and made a leaping throw that barely beat Bay to first base.
Bay was 0 for 17 in his career against Lowe before his single in the third. He walked in the first. ... Prado's homer was his first since Aug. 9. ... Lowe's 15th loss matched his career high set with the Dodgers in 2005. ... RHP Tim Hudson, who leads the Braves with 14 wins, will face R.A. Dickey on Saturday. Dickey is 1/3 with a 4.54 ERA in nine career games, including six starts, against Atlanta. His one win came on June 5 in New York. ... Collins announced Capuano's next start will come Thursday at St. Louis, instead of Wednesday, as had been planned. RHP Chris Schwinden will start against the Cardinals on Wednesday.