When the Atlanta Braves signed Derek Lowe to a four-year contract this offseason, the organization was counting on the veteran right-hander to become the ace that this staff was looking for.
On Sunday night, he showed that he won't have any problems taking over that role.
Lowe pitched eight innings of shutout baseball while allowing just two hits in Atlanta's 4-1 win over the defending world champions on Sunday.
The Braves bats were alive early as they connected for three home runs in the first two innings off of Phillies starter Brett Myers. Brian McCann started the Atlanta slugfest with a two-run shot in the first, scoring Chipper Jones. Jeff Francoeur then drove the first pitch of the second inning into the left field bleachers. Two batters later, rookie center fielder Jordan Schafer became the 99th Major Leaguer to hit a home run in his first MLB at-bat to give the Braves a 4-0 lead, and all the runs that Lowe would need.
Lowe, who was 0-3 with a 8.44 ERA in his last three Opening Day starts, was very effective early, retiring the first seven batters he faced before giving up a one-out double to Carlos Ruiz down the left field line. The 36-year-old settled right back in after that hit, sitting down the next 10 hitters before allowing a single to Jimmy Rollins in the sixth, but that was all the farther he made it.
The Phillies did get one last chance in the ninth inning, however. Closer Mike Gonzalez started off the ninth by giving up a double to pinch hitter Eric Bruntlett, who advanced to third on a Jimmy Rollins flyout to Jeff Francoeur. Gonzalez went on to give up an RBI single to Jayson Werth and then walked Chase Utley before striking out Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez to end the Philadelphia rally, as well as the game.
Chipper Jones, who set a franchise record making his 14th Opening Day start, finished the game 2-for-4 with a double, while Jordan Schafer was 2-for-3 in his MLB debut.
Brett Myers took the loss for the Phillies, pitching six innings, scattering eight hits and striking out six.