Lowe feels no discomfort in right elbow

ATLANTA -- Derek Lowe was obviously thrilled with the fact that he proved healthy enough to remain perfect against the Pirates on Wednesday night. The Braves' right-hander was further encouraged Thursday morning, when he awoke without any concerning right elbow discomfort.

Burdened by a bone chip over the course of the past six weeks, Lowe had felt most uncomfortable the day after his starts. But the 37-year-old righty proved to be his usual jovial self when he returned to Turner Field on Thursday with reason to at least hope he may not even need to have the chip surgically removed during the offseason.

Lowe believes he has pitched with the chip over the course of the past 10 years. It only became bothersome once it nestled next to a nerve in his right elbow. Before Friday, the veteran hurler had never been forced to miss a start because of injury.

"It really feels surprisingly a lot better than it's been," Lowe said. "That's encouraging. Hopefully it stays like this the rest of the season and hopefully I don't have to have it taken out. That's the ultimate goal. If it stays like this, there's no reason to go in there and take it out."

Lowe allowed just one run and eight hits in six innings Wednesday night at PNC Park. He is now 10-0 with a 2.64 ERA in 10 career starts against the Pirates. Since the start of the expansion era in 1961, Ferguson Jenkins (12 vs. Padres), Pedro Martinez (12 vs. Mariners) and Jamie Moyer (10 vs. Marlins) are the only other pitchers to win their first 10 starts against one team.

Chipper finds it tough watching from bench

ATLANTA -- After undergoing season-ending knee surgery on Aug. 14, Chipper Jones felt uncomfortable while watching his Braves teammates on television. Having gained enough mobility to spend the past couple of weeks with the team, Jones found himself feeling miserable and hopeless while sitting on the bench during the six-game road trip that included just two wins.

"I don't know what's worse, not feeling like I'm a part of the team while I'm sitting at home, or not feeling like I'm a part of the team while I'm sitting in the dugout," Jones said. "It's just something I'm not used to. Now that we've let the lead slip away and we're in second place, it's even more magnifying."

For the first time since 1992, the Braves are entering the most intense portion of a pennant race without Jones, who tore his left anterior cruciate ligament Aug. 10. With Martin Prado providing solid defense at third base and Omar Infante providing more indication that he can handle an everyday role, they haven't crumbled without the veteran third baseman's presence.

But Jones still can't help but wonder if his presence would have been enough to help Atlanta win an extra game or two over the past month. The club entered Thursday trailing the idle Phillies by a half-game in the National League East standings.

"You always feel like you would make a difference, provide a spark, get a big hit or make a big play," Jones said. "When the team is struggling, it makes it worse. It's easier to stomach when you're going out and scoring nine runs in a game and you play a solid 27 outs."

Minor views last start as bump in road

ATLANTA -- Mike Minor doesn't appear to be fazed by the worst start of his young career. Heading into Friday's start against the Cardinals, the Braves' rookie left-hander seems to welcome the challenge that Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday will present.

"It's not going to be any different," Minor said. "They still get out all of the time. They might not get out as often, but they're still getting out seven out of 10 times. My stuff is just as good as the other guys that get them out. That's what I keep on thinking and telling myself."

When Minor went 3-0 with a 3.91 ERA in his first four career starts, he consistently commanded his fastball and had the luxury of turning to his curveball or changeup when necessary. His successful run ended Sunday, when he struggled to command his fastball and reached a point where he essentially had to ditch his curveball. In the process of this four-inning stint against the Marlins, he allowed six earned runs and nine hits -- seven of which went for extra bases.

"It was just a bad outing," Minor said. "The stuff wasn't really there and the fastball was going over the middle of the plate. So I didn't really show them who I was and how I can really pitch ... I just wasn't pitching the way I should. The other day was overall just a bad day."

Worth noting

After grounding out to end the fifth inning of Thursday night's 11-4 loss to the Cardinals, Jason Heyward was removed as part of a double switch. The All-Star rookie outfielder, who has hit .441 with four homers and 13 RBIs in his past 19 games, confirmed after the game that he didn't exit with any sort of health-related issue. ... Entering Thursday's game, Bobby Cox needed seven more wins to record the 2,500th win of his managerial career. ... Billy Wagner needs seven more saves to match John Franco's Major League record (424) for left-handed relievers. ... Highly-regarded first-base prospect Freddie Freeman will celebrate his 21st birthday Friday. Freeman has recorded one hit in the first nine at-bats of his Major League career.