- Associated Press - Monday, September 13, 2010

ATLANTA | Derek Lowe decided it was time for a new plan against Washington, so he asked Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell for help.

With his “cheat sheet” from McDowell sitting in his locker, Lowe set a career high with 12 strikeouts and combined with Billy Wagner on a six-hitter to lead Atlanta past the Nationals 4-0 on Monday night.

Entering the game, Lowe was 1-6 with a 5.44 ERA in nine starts for Atlanta against Washington in 2009 and 2010, according to STATS LLC.

He said he went to McDowell on Monday and said, “I need help.”

“I give Roger every bit of credit for the game,” Lowe said. “I hadn’t beaten this team in about three years.”

After conferring with McDowell, Lowe went over the plan with catcher Brian McCann.

Known for his sinker and ability to produce ground balls, Lowe said his plan was, “Just try different things, use more pitches and try not to throw certain pitches to certain guys.”

It worked. The Braves remained one game behind first-place Philadelphia in the NL East. The Phillies beat Florida 11-4.

Lowe (13-12) was 0-3 with a 6.11 ERA in his first three starts against Washington this season before delivering an impressive win marked by two personal milestones.

He earned an ovation from the small crowd of 18,647 with his 1,500th career strikeout against Ian Desmond in the fourth. Lowe struck out Wilson Ramos in the eighth for his 12th of the game.

The right-hander gave up six hits and no walks in eight innings.

“We just looked at video and looked at what Derek’s strengths are and tried to apply it to this game,” McDowell said. “To his credit, he was able to execute all his pitches.”

Lowe called the win “about the best game I’ve pitched in a long time.”

The Nationals were impressed.

“Our hitters to a man said that was the best they’ve seen him,” said Washington manager Jim Riggleman, who compared Lowe’s control with former Braves standouts Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux.

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