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ATL@WSH: Lowe hurls 5 2/3 scoreless frames

Ron Roenicke had watched Yovani Gallardo on film and seen the 25-year-old righty up close throughout Spring Training.

Even with that background, the Brewers' first-year manager still was impressed with Gallardo's Opening Day performance, in which he allowed two runs on seven hits in six innings while earning a no-decision.

"His stuff is amazing," Roenicke said. "I knew this guy was pretty good, but my gosh. ... He waited too long to bring his curveball into play. That's why he struggled the first couple of innings. But I haven't seen too many guys with that kind of stuff."

Gallardo will return to the hill Tuesday in hopes of giving the Brewers their first win of the season in the second game of a four-game series against the Braves. He's had success against Atlanta in the past, holding a 2-0 record and 1.27 ERA against the Braves.

Opposing Gallardo is another pitcher coming off a solid Opening Day start, right-hander Derek Lowe. In his third straight season opener for Atlanta, Lowe again dazzled, throwing 5 2/3 shutout innings against the Nationals.

Washington right fielder Jayson Werth, who went 1-for-4 against Lowe, said it was probably the best he'd seen Lowe throw in quite some time. The 37-year-old righty agreed with that assessment, saying it was the best he's felt this early in the season.

"I felt more confidence than I have coming into any year, so it's good to see the right things happen," Lowe said. "It felt good to get the season started off in the right direction. I keep saying it, but it really does feel good to enter a season not having to worry about your mechanics or anything like that. I'm feeling very confident now."

Braves: McLouth to stick in two-hole
Despite Nate McLouth's struggles last year -- when he hit only .190 with a .298 on-base percentage -- Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said the 29-year-old center fielder will keep batting second. Gonzalez said he likes the power/speed potential McLouth adds to the top of the lineup, while he also likes keeping Jason Heyward in the No. 6 spot, which is more of a run-producing position. Chipper Jones agrees with his skipper's thinking. "[McLouth] has swung the bat pretty good and you just hope he continues to do that out of the two-hole, because you need to have his speed at the top of the lineup, because it helps us to be able to manufacture runs," Jones said. "He's a good bunter. So with [leadoff hitter Martin Prado] always on base, [McLouth] can be a threat to bunt, hit-and-run, double in the gap and hit for some power."

• One week after releasing reliever Scott Proctor, the Braves re-signed him to a Minor League contract and assigned him to Triple-A Gwinnett. The 34-year-old reliever missed all of '09 recovering from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery and struggled to return last year, limited to only a few September appearances. "This guy is a professional," Gonzalez said. "He'll help us before this year is over with. I'm glad he signed with us."

Brewers: Melvin said defense needs to remain focused
The Brewers were charged with only two errors in their season-opening series against the Reds, but general manager Doug Melvin said Monday he was disappointed with a couple of players' decisions on fielder's-choice plays. Melvin said no matter what happens -- bad calls or physical errors -- Milwaukee needs to remain focused. "Teams are going to make mistakes," Melvin said. "You watch games every night. Defensively, yeah, we're challenged defensively as a club. But if there is a mistake made or an error made, then we have to shut it down. You can't go out there and hang your head and give up a three-run homer or a big inning."

• There is no timetable for right fielder Corey Hart's return from the disabled list. Hart, who has a strained right-cage muscle, was injured during an outfield drill March 26. "He's still trying to push things to get to 100 percent; he's not there yet," Roenicke said. "He still feels it a little bit on a full swing and he still feels it a little bit when he's trying to throw hard."

• The Brewers opened their 10th season at Miller Park on Monday, with 11 members of the Super Bowl champion Green Pay Packers throwing out ceremonial first pitches. The Brewers also unveiled a new scoreboard, plus there was the usual Opening Day fanfare. "I know it's huge for the fans, and for a general manager, too, you want to play a good ballgame in front of your fans," Melvin said. "A lot of people judge your home opener sometimes."

Worth noting
Following Monday's 2-1 loss, the Brewers are 7-4 in home openers at Miller Park. ... Braves shortstop Alex Gonzalez recorded the 5,000th at-bat of his career Monday. He ranks ninth among active shortstops in that category. ... Brewers outfielder Nyjer Morgan, who went 0-for-1 with a walk Monday, could start again Tuesday. Morgan is hitting .536 (15-for-28) against Lowe in his career. Other Brewers who have had success against Lowe are Craig Counsell (10-for-28) and Rickie Weeks (5-for-12, with two homers). Comments