- Associated Press - Saturday, April 30, 2011

ATLANTA (AP) - The day started off tough for the Braves.

It never got any better.

General manager Frank Wren awoke to news Friday that pitcher Derek Lowe had been arrested on drunken-driving charges. In the afternoon, the Braves placed pitching coach Roger McDowell on administrative leave while investigating an ugly altercation with fans last weekend.

As midnight approached, Atlanta gave up two runs in the 11th inning for a 5-3 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals, having squandered a lead in the ninth that would’ve put a little salve on the wounds.

“Obviously, it was a more melodramatic day than usual,” Braves starter Tim Hudson said. “But tomorrow is a new day. We’ll come out and try to win that one. We’re going to support our teammates, support everything that’s going on here. We’re a family. That’s how it’s going to be.”

The Braves are a team that usually avoids the spotlight, at least away from the park.

Sure, there have been stumbles along the way. Bobby Cox getting into a fracas with his wife. Rafael Furcal serving jail time after a second drunken-driving conviction. And, of course, John Rocker’s infamous rant against homosexuals, immigrants and just about anyone else he didn’t agree with.

“We have a long-standing reputation in this community and in Major League Baseball that we’re very proud of,” Wren said.

That image was tarnished when McDowell, the team’s pitching coach since 2005, allegedly made homophobic comments, crude gestures and threatened a fan with a bat before a game in San Francisco last weekend.

Then, on Thursday night, Lowe was arrested by state troopers who said they spotted him racing another car on an Atlanta street. The officer detected an odor of alcohol and administered a field sobriety test, which resulted in Lowe’s arrest, according to Gordy Wright, a spokesman for the Georgia State Patrol.

“It’s been a rough couple days for this organization and, clearly, I have a lot to do with that,” said Lowe, who apologized to his teammates privately. “Any time you do anything, you’re putting the Braves in a bad spot. And that’s what I did. I let them know that I’m sorry for the situation.”

Wren was so concerned by the embarrassing double-whammy that he called a closed-door meeting to put everyone on notice: players, coaches, even the front office.

“Unfortunately, mistakes have been made, and we’ll deal with them at the appropriate time,” he said. “Everyone is very mindful of the position we have and, going forward, being more diligent in making sure we uphold that reputation we’re so proud of.”

Lowe will make his next scheduled start on Sunday, and the team is unlikely to impose any additional discipline beyond what the courts decide.

The outcome for McDowell is not as clear, though manager Fredi Gonzalez said he’s hopeful the pitching coach will keep his job.

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