Atlanta's Michael Bourn gets caught in a rundown Saturday night during a 4-3 loss to the Cardinals.
ST. LOUIS — Derek Lowe threw seven shutouts innings in Game 4 of the 2004 World Series, helping the Boston Red Sox wrap up a sweep of St. Louis on the road. In the regular season, the Cardinals have his number.
Lowe absorbed yet another setback against the Cardinals on Saturday night, allowing four runs in six innings. He is 1-8 with a 6.79 ERA in 10 career starts against St. Louis, the lone victory coming in 2007 when he was with the Dodgers. Lowe hasn't beaten the Cardinals on the road in the regular season.
The 38-year-old right-hander has no idea why the Cardinals are so hard on him.
"For some unknown reason, this team gives me fits," Lowe said. "You look at the numbers against this team and it's awful."
Told he'll always have the World Series gem, he muttered, "Yeah, that was a long time ago."
The Cardinals hit four doubles in the first four three innings against Lowe (9-14), including two in succession by Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman in the third. Lowe allowed four runs and eight hits in the first three innings, but gave up only one hit in the last three.
The Atlanta bullpen finished with two scoreless innings to keep it close.
"I just look back, and I made some boneheaded pitches to Holliday and Berkman, pitches I didn't want to throw," Lowe said. "My fault, bad pitches."
Berkman had a single, RBI double and walk — reaching base seven straight times over two games — and the Cardinals inched closer in the NL wild card race.
Jaime Garcia (12-7) worked six efficient innings, and Rafael Furcal had two hits and his 300th career steal for the Cardinals. They've taken the first two games of a three-game series, both by 4-3 scores, to reduce Atlanta's wild card lead to 5½ games.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said it's no time to panic.
"We had an opportunity to come up with some big innings and we haven't taken advantage of those situations," Gonzalez said. "But we will."
Freddie Freeman hit his 19th home run for the Braves, who are 4-7 in September after going 17-9 in August. Michael Bourn singled twice, for a two-day total of six hits, and had a steal but he flied out with the tying run on third for the final out.
Garcia has won his first two starts this month after going 0-2 with a 6.84 ERA in August. He allowed three runs and eight hits with four strikeouts and no walks.
Jason Heyward walked with one out in the ninth, then stole second and went to third on catcher Yadier Molina's throwing error with two outs before Jason Motte wrapped up his fourth save in seven chances. Motte, who throws in the high 90s, was the winning pitcher after working a perfect 10th inning Friday.
"He's going to challenge you," Bourn said. "I was going to battle to the end. He won that battle and they won the game, but we played OK. We'll be back (Sunday)."
Berkman had a walk and three singles on Friday and started Saturday with an infield hit, an RBI double and a walk before ending the run with a soft liner to short in the eighth.
Albert Pujols and David Freese had an RBI apiece in the first inning. Holliday and Berkman hit consecutive one-out doubles in the third, and Molina added an RBI single in the inning for a 4-0 lead.
Freeman's two-run homer in the fourth was only the second by a left-handed batter against Garcia. Bourn singled, stole second and scored on Brian McCann's single in the fifth to make it a one-run game.
Lowe ended a string of four consecutive rookie starters for the Braves. He was also the first in five games to finish the sixth, topping 2,500 career innings and lessening the load a bit on the Atlanta bullpen.
Notes: Tim Hudson (14-9, 3.14) faces Jake Westbrook (11-8, 4.65) in the finale of the Cardinals' nine-game homestand on Sunday. Hudson is 3-3 with a 5.25 ERA for his career against St. Louis. ... Atlanta 3B Chipper Jones got a day off and will play Sunday. C Brian McCann will get a rest. Jones is 2 for 15 with no RBIs this season against the Cardinals. ... Braves LHP George Sherrill (left elbow inflammation) resumed playing catch Saturday after being shut down for about a week after going on the DL on Aug. 31. ... Nick Punto's deciding sacrifice fly on Friday was his first game-ending hit. ... The Braves bullpen has totaled 38 innings in 11 games this month. ... Furcal is 9 for 20 with three RBIs against Lowe. ... Freeman's homer was his first since Aug. 22 at Chicago, a stretch of 62 at-bats.