"These games are playoff-atmosphere-type games," Wagner said. "You can feel it. You feel it in your body. You feel that anxiety, that nervousness, all that stuff that you're supposed to feel."
Following the lead Tim Hudson provided Tuesday, Lowe showed no anxiety while making his 12th career start (eighth in the regular season) on short rest. Extending the dominance he displayed throughout the month and further proving he's not simply a sinkerballer, he kept the Marlins scoreless until surrendering singles to three of the final four batters he faced in the sixth inning.
"His last four starts or so have just been dominating," Cox said of Lowe, who has gone 5-0 with a 1.17 ERA in the five starts he has made since skipping a Sept. 3 start against the Marlins because of elbow discomfort caused by a bone chip.
Although the rest may have helped, Lowe can seemingly credit his recent dominance to a confidence-building strategic meeting with Roger McDowell before his Sept. 13 start against the Nationals. On the way to winning each of his past five starts, the 37-year-old right-hander has been armed with a relocated strikeout pitch -- a slider that seemingly disappeared from his arsenal once he arrived in Atlanta last year.
"This is how my breaking ball has been almost until I came here," Lowe said. "The backdoor breaking ball to left-handers is something I've always been able to throw. I really haven't had much success with it for a long time. But confidence definitely helps."
Having lost five of their previous six, the Braves didn't exactly enter this final homestand with momentum. Their confidence took another blow when Prado limped off the field during the fifth inning of Monday night's series opener.
Fortunately, Conrad has so far managed to erase the sting. The 30-year-old rookie further endeared himself to the Atlanta faithful with the three-run homer he drilled off Andrew Miller in the four-run third inning that propelled the Braves toward the sweep.
Recognized as Mr. Clutch because of his multiple late-inning contributions, Conrad simply smiled when he was reminded that this was the only of his eight homers to be hit before the seventh inning. It was also the first that he has hit from the right side of the plate this season.
"Hopefully there's more to come than that, but that one felt really good today," Conrad said.
Giving Brian McCann a chance to rest, David Ross recorded three doubles in a game for the first time in his career. The veteran backup catcher's two-out RBI double in the fourth inning gave Conrad a chance to deliver the big blow off Miller, who allowed four earned runs in just three innings.
Although their offense may have been weakened by Prado's absence, the Braves proved they still have a pitching staff that could lead to postseason success. Their starters (Tommy Hanson, Hudson and Lowe) and dependable bullpen combined to limit the Marlins to four runs in this three-game set.
"We're going to fight until the very end, and if things go wrong, we're going to find a different way to win," Conrad said. "The one mainstay we have had is pitching. You can't say enough about those guys. They've been unbelievable."