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ATL@CHC: Lowe sharp, fans six in tough loss to Cubs

For some, just an opportunity to play October baseball would be incredibly satisfying, but don't put Braves third baseman Chipper Jones in that category.

With fewer than 30 games to play in the season, the Braves have a commanding lead in the National League Wild Card race. A trip to the playoffs seems more than likely, but Jones and Braves aren't satisfied with just a berth -- they want to dethrone the Phillies and sit atop the NL East.

Though the Braves trail the Phillies by 7 1/2 games, they still feel a division crown is within reach.

"We haven't ruled anything out," Jones said. "We're going to go at it this last month like we're coming after [Philadelphia}. Obviously, we've got six games head-to-head with them. Those are going to be very important games. We want home field advantage during the National League portion of the playoffs."

Jones, a seasoned veteran, knows just how important home-field advantage can be in October.

"The home-field advantage is obviously very important," Jones said. "You look at a team like who we're pitted against as we sit here right now, Milwaukee. They've got the best record in baseball at home. In order for us to go to the next level, we're going to have to win in the most hostile environment there is. And that's not going to be easy. So we make things easier on us if we go out and play well in September."

Looking to squash Atlanta's hopes on Wednesday will be Washington hurler John Lannan. He's 8-5 with a 3.31 ERA in his career against the Braves.

Braves: Lowe seeking more support
Derek Lowe will take the mound in the second game of this series. He took the loss in his last start against the Cubs when Atlanta's offense struggled, scoring only two runs. Lowe tossed seven innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on four hits.

"It was just one of those games where you really felt whatever situation presented itself, you could get out of," Lowe said after the game. "That's a really good feeling. Games like this are going to happen. Their guy pitched a good game, and you can't really complain about one loss the way we've been playing."

Nationals: Strasburg set for '11 debut
The Nats announced that right-hander Stephen Strasburg is scheduled to make his season debut Tuesday against the Dodgers.

The first overall pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft made his Major League debut last year, going 5-3 with a 2.92 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 68 innings, but hasn't pitched in the Majors this year as he works to recover from Tommy John surgery.

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