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Boston starter lasts only 4 1/3 innings

ATLANTA (AP) -- For 4½ innings, Sunday's game against the Atlanta
Braves was progressing just as Boston manager Terry Francona had
hoped.

The Red Sox had an early lead, Derek Lowe's sinkers were
baffling the Braves and Boston was on track for its second straight
win.

Then came a fifth-inning meltdown by Lowe, and the Braves went
on to win 10-4, leaving the Red Sox 7½ games behind the AL
East-leading New York Yankees following a 1-5 trip.

"Once things started to go bad, we didn't come close to
stopping the bleeding," Francona said.

Atlanta blew open the game with a nine-run fifth inning.

"We feel good and then 10 minutes later, the game is out of
reach," Francona said. "That can't happen."

Francona desperately wanted Lowe to work out of the jam.
Francona says Lowe needed the confidence boost, and the Red Sox
bullpen needed a break even after Curt Schilling pitched a
six-hitter in Saturday night's 6-1 win. But five straight Braves
drove in runs, capped by a two-run homer from Chipper Jones that
chased Lowe.

"At some point he has to do it," Francona said of Lowe.

Lowe (6-8) did not make himself available for postgame
interviews. He has lost three straight starts, allowing 17 earned
runs as his ERA soared to 6.02.

"He threw the ball great; he had great tempo," Boston right
fielder Kevin Millar said.

Boston is 23-11 when Pedro Martinez and Schilling start, 20-26
in other games.

"We weren't able to readjust, to get back in that inning,"
catcher Jason Varitek said. "It's probably more frustrating for
him than anybody."

Even the Braves could see the difference in Lowe.

"The first couple innings, he was nasty," Jones said. "He had
a dirty sinker working that made it really tough on us but we got a
couple baserunners, got a couple seeing-eye hits, and all of a
sudden the sinker started flying out there a little bit."

Lowe gave up eight runs and eight hits in 4 1/3 innings. Boston
has dropped eight of 11 overall and seven of its last eight road
games, falling to 28-31 since April. The Red Sox are 18-23 on the
road overall.

J.D. Drew hit a tiebreaking, two-run double before Jones' 12th
homer. Charles Thomas added a two-run triple off Jimmy Anderson,
who was acquired from the Chicago Cubs Thursday and was making his
Boston debut.

Atlanta won for the eighth time in 11 games.

Mike Hampton (3-8) won despite giving up four runs on seven hits
the first three innings. He gave up only two hits the next 3 1/3
innings before Braves manager Bobby Cox let three relievers finish.

Hampton has won two of his last three decisions despite giving
up four runs in each win.

Boston hoped Schilling's performance, which stopped a four-game
losing streak, would turn momentum. In the early innings Sunday, it
looked like it had.

Lowe hit an RBI double in the second, driving in Varitek, but
Bill Mueller was thrown out at the plate on shortstop Rafael
Furcal's relay while trying to score from first. Boston added three
runs in the third on Manny Ramirez's two-run double and Varitek's
RBI groundout for a 4-0 lead.

Furcal hit a run-scoring infield single in the third, and Lowe
loaded the bases in the fifth on two walks and an infield hit.
Hampton hit an RBI grounder, Furcal and Green tied it with
consecutive run-scoring singles, and Drew hit a two-run double for
a 6-4 lead.

Anderson was ready in the bullpen to face Jones, but Francona
stuck with Lowe.

"The way our pitching is, we needed to get some outs there,"
Francona said. "We really wanted Derek to get through that thing.
Obviously when he gives up the home run to Chipper, that's the end
of the line."

Game notes
Atlanta's Eddie Perez stopped an 0-for-15 slump with a
third-inning double. ... Lowe's double was only his second career
hit in 19 at-bats. ... Anderson became the 38th player and 20th
pitcher to appear for the Red Sox this season. ... There was a
34-minute rain delay with two outs in the bottom of the eighth.