ATLANTA -- Right-hander Derek Lowe proved to be too much for the Nationals, who lost to the Braves, 3-1, at Turner Field on Wednesday night. The loss comes a day after the Nationals scored nine runs off Atlanta's Jair Jurrjens.
Lowe was able to do the job with his arm and bat. He lasted six-plus innings and allowed one run on three hits. The run was scored in the top of the seventh inning, which Michael Morse opened with his 24th home run of the season. Ian Desmond collected the other two hits -- a single to lead off the game, and another single two innings later.
For most of the game, Lowe hit the outside corner for strikes. Manager Davey Johnson was not happy that his hitters weren't aggressive at the plate -- Lowe got called third strikes four times.
"He kept the ball down pretty much all night," Johnson said. "I thought he really had command of the outside corner. He pitched a good ballgame. We didn't get much offensively. I like us being aggressive. I thought we got some pitches to hit, but some days it's like that."
Said Desmond: "It was typical Derek Lowe. He was using his sinker and cutter. He has a 90-mile-an-hour pitch going in both directions. You have a slider on top of that, and he used his changeup. He just kept us off balance."
Once Lowe exited, the Nationals proved to be no match for Atlanta's relief corps. Eric O'Flaherty, Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel dominated during the final three innings, with Kimbrel picking up his 41st save of the season, a rookie record.
"Their back side of the bullpen has been almost unhittable. You have to get the Braves pretty early," Johnson said.
Left-hander John Lannan started for Washington, and the long ball proved to be the difference against him. In the bottom of the second inning, Chipper Jones gave Atlanta a one-run lead by hitting a home run over the center-field fence. It was his 450th career home run.
"That is a big accomplishment," Lannan said.
An inning later, Lowe hit a solo home run, the first of his career, to extend the Braves' lead to two runs. He became the third pitcher in Major League history to hit his first home run past the age of 38. Later in the inning, Martin Prado scored on a infield single by Dan Uggla.
"[Lannan] got way behind on Derek, and he was trying to get it over. Those things can happen," Johnson said.
Said Lowe: "It was fun. I've never hit a home run since I was a Little Leaguer. That's the first ball I've ever hit over a fence in 38 years of existence. The only home runs I ever hit when I was a kid would just roll, and they would kick it around."
Although he lost his 11th game of the season, Lannan pitched his 14th quality start, going seven innings and allowing the three runs on seven hits.
"I thought Lannan pitched a decent ballgame. He gave up a couple of home runs. I thought -- by and large -- he kept us in the ballgame," Johnson said. "That's all you could ask for from a starter."
Lannan didn't have much to say about his outing, not even about giving up the home run to Lowe. He could relate to what Lowe accomplished, having hit his first big league homer against the Dodgers last July.
"I felt good all night. They got to me in the second and third. They scored runs," Lannan said.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.