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Atlanta Braves Opening Day 2011 Score: Derek Lowe Pulled After 5.2 Strong Innings, Braves Remain Ahead 2-0 After Six

Derek Lowe was pulled with two outs in the sixth after throwing 105 pitches. Lowe's final line was 5.2 innings, three hits, no runs, two walks and six strikeouts.

Lowe didn't allow a hit after the second inning and allowed just two baseunners on walks. The pitch count ran up due to the six strikeouts, as well as several full counts. He struck out the side in the third against Desmond, Werth and Zimmerman. Lowe used the slider often and well in his first start of 2011, picking up two of the strikeouts on the pitch.

The move to pull Lowe was the correct one for new manager Fredi Gonzalez. Lowe was working past 100 pitches, was struggling with command in the sixth and was in the third time through the order.

The Braves continue to sit at 2-0 after six and a half innings. Nationals starter Livan Hernandez was pulled in the seventh at 77 pitches, allowing two runs on four hits in 6.1 innings, no walks and three strikeouts. Hernandez did not allow a baserunner from the third through the sixth, but a leadoff single by Brian McCann helped lead to the pitching change.

With a runner on first and one out in the seventh, lefty Doug Slaten was called on to face Jason Heyward, but he walked to put two on. Tyler Clippard replaced him to face Alex Gonzalez, who struck out. Freddie Freeman followed with a flyout to end the threat.

For more on the series, Braves fans should visit Talking Chop, and Nationals fans should visit Federal Baseball.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.