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Cardinals Vs. Braves: Atlanta Tries To Salvage A Win In Series Finale

After two close losses in which the deciding runs came in the final outs, the Braves are looking to salvage a win in the last game of the series with the Cardinals at Turner Field. Game time is 1:35 on Fox Sports South.

Cardinals Lineup:
1. Nick Punto, 2B
2. Colby Rasmus, CF
3. Albert Pujols, 1B
4. Matt Holliday, LF
5. Lance Berkman, RF
6. David Freese, 3B
7. Yadier Molina, C
8. Ryan Theriot, SS
9. Jaime Garcia, SP

Braves Lineup:
1. Martin Prado, LF
2. Jason Heyward, RF
3. Chipper Jones, 3B
4. Brian McCann, C
5. Dan Uggla, 2B
6. Alex Gonzalez, SS
7. Joe Mather, 1B
8. Nate McLouth, CF
9. Derek Lowe, SP

Jaime Garcia (30.1 IP, 2.08 ERA, 2.49 FIP, 2.64 xFIP, 2.67 BB/9, 8.9 K/9, 60.5 GB%, 12.2 SwStr%)
(54.9 FB%, 19.4 CT%, 19.2 CH%, 6.5 CB%; 46.6 Swing%, 73.6 Contact%)
vs.
Derek Lowe (33.2 IP, 3.21 ERA, 2.90 FIP, 3.03 xFIP, 2.94 BB/9, 8.55 K/9, 54.1 GB%, 10.4 SwStr%)
(46.5 FB%, 26.9 SL%, 16.7 CH%, 9.9 CT%; 39.8 Swing%, 73.6 Contact%)

The left-handed Garcia finished third in Rookie of the Year voting last season behind Buster Posey and Jason Heyward. If not for such a loaded class, he could have easily won the award. He's doing even better so far this season, allowing no more than four runs or three earned runs in any start and allowing just one earned run in two of them. But the biggest improvement is the walk and strikeout rates, both of which have jumped in the right direction dramatically. His ground ball and home run rates have also improved. Garcia's cutter/changeup combination can shut down an offense.

Lowe will pitch Sunday's game despite his DUI arrest. Whether this has any effect on his preparation or performance remains to be seen, but the Braves are surely hoping it doesn't. He had one of his best outings this season last time out against the Padres, allowing two runs in six innings while striking out eight. The GB/FB numbers remain a little troublesome, but Lowe seems to be focusing on strikeouts more than grounders at this point. He continues to throw a large number of sliders and with plenty success.

Opposing Numbers:
The Braves' experience against Garcia isn't even worth mentioning. Nate McLouth leads the team with four plate appearances.

Matt Holliday has destroyed Lowe in the past, going 18-35 with five doubles, a homer and nine RBIs. Lance Berkman is 8-28 with two homers. Albert Pujols is 8-25 with a homer. Yadier Molina is 6-20 with four RBIs. Ryan Theriot is 4-20.

What to Look For:
The Braves need Lowe to put his troubles behind him and focus on a win today. Atlanta needs a strong outing to avoid a sweep, because it's likely that Garcia will pitch them tough.

For more on the series, Braves fans check out Talking Chop and Cardinals fans check out Viva El Birdos.

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