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Not an 'ace'? Lowe's play suggesting otherwise

6/17/2002

ATLANTA (AP) -- Derek Lowe claims he's just a No. 3 starter, but
his record suggests otherwise.

Lowe outpitched Tom Glavine and became the first AL pitcher to
win 11 games, helping the Boston Red Sox beat the Atlanta Braves 6-1 on Sunday.

Jason Varitek and Trot Nixon homered for the Red Sox, who
avoided being swept in the battle of division leaders. Pedro
Martinez and John Burkett, Boston's top two starters, lost the
first two games of the series, and both have lost back-to-back
starts.

"I'm not the ace, I'll tell you that right now,'' Lowe said.
"This is only 2½ months. To be considered an ace, you've got to do
this for years. I'm the third guy in line, and I just try to win
games.''

It was just the second loss in 12 games for the Braves.

Lowe (11-2) allowed seven hits in seven innings, including four
which didn't leave the infield. He got out of a two-on, one-out jam
in the sixth by striking out Chipper and Andruw Jones, and retired
three straight in the seventh after giving up back-to-back singles
to lead off the inning.

Lowe struck out a career-high 10 and hit one batter. He also got
his first career hit, a third-inning single up the middle off
Glavine (11-3).

"It was neat to be able to help the team out and help yourself
out, too, because we ended up scoring a couple of runs that
inning,'' Lowe said. "That's the beauty of interleague play. You
look either real good or real bad.''

The matchup with Glavine was only the second meeting of ERA
leaders; the other was June 26, 1998, when Al Leiter of the Mets
faced Hideki Irabu of the Yankees.

But Glavine didn't last long, leaving after the fifth in his
shortest outing of the season. He gave up seven hits and five runs
-- three earned -- including Nixon's solo homer leading off the
third. It was just the sixth home run off Glavine this season, the
second to a left-handed batter.

"I wasn't locating my fastball real good, and my changeup was
just kind of so-so,'' Glavine said. "When I made mistakes, they
hit them, and that was kind of the way the game went.''

Nixon entered the game in a 13-for-86 slump, but went 1-for-2
with two walks and two RBI.

"I felt relaxed,'' he said. "When you're relaxed, you have a
tendency to see the ball a lot longer. I've got to keep doing this,
and sooner or later I'll break out of the slump.''

Boston nearly knocked Glavine out in the fourth. Nomar
Garciaparra started a three-run rally with a one-out single,
Varitek was hit by a pitch and Jose Offerman walked to load the
bases. Nixon hit a sharp grounder that scooted past second baseman
Keith Lockhart for an error, allowing Garciaparra and Varitek to
score.

Lou Merloni followed with a single to score Offerman.

After Nixon's homer off Glavine in the third, Merloni singled,
moved to third on Lowe's hit then scored an out later on a
fielder's choice. Varitek added a solo shot in the sixth off Darren
Holmes.

The Braves scored their run in the third, when Franco singled to
drive in Lockhart.

"Lowe was pretty tough,'' Atlanta right fielder Gary Sheffield
said. "His motion kind of throws you off. He hides the ball really
well.''

Game notes
Atlanta SS Rafael Furcal left the game after getting hit in
the elbow by a pitch from Lowe in the third inning. X-rays were
negative, and the Braves said he was day-to-day. ... Braves RHP
Albie Lopez pitched a scoreless seventh, just his eighth relief
appearance since May 5. ... Boston LF Ricky Henderson saw his first
action of the series and went 0-for-4 before he was replaced by
Bryant Nelson.