Lowe leads Braves past Marlins

Atlanta’s Brooks Conrad (right) celebrates his threerun home run against Florida in the third inning at Turner Field in Atlanta on Wednesday. The Braves won, 5-1, and completed a three-game sweep of the Marlins.

ATLANTA -- Bobby Cox wants to make sure the attention being paid to his final regular season games as Atlanta's manager takes a back seat to the Braves' pursuit of their first playoff berth since 2005.

Cox deflected questions about his retirement after the Braves beat the Florida Marlins, 5-1, on Wednesday to complete a three-game sweep behind Derek Lowe's fifth win of the month and Brooks Conrad's three-run homer.

Atlanta moved two games ahead of San Diego in the NL wild-card race. The Padres hosted Chicago late Wednesday night.

The 69-year-old Cox announced his retirement plans one year ago. The Braves will honor Cox on Saturday. His focus, however is on the wild-card race.

"These games are so important I'm going to put (retirement) on the back burner," Cox said when asked about Saturday's ceremony.

Atlanta reached 90 wins for the 15th time in 25 years under Cox. The Braves won 14 straight division titles under Cox but have missed out on the playoffs for four straight seasons.

Atlanta closes at home against NL East champion Philadelphia with a three-game series starting Friday night.

"We win two more games, I don't care what the Padres do," Braves closer Billy Wagner said. "We win two more games, we're going to the playoffs, and that's what we've fought for."

Added Lowe: "You figured it would come down to this last series and we did what we had to do."

Atlanta's focus on the playoffs was obvious to the Marlins.

"Those guys are hungry," said Florida's Chad Tracy, who had three hits. "They can taste it."

Pitching on three days' rest, Lowe (16-12) gave up one run and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings and struck out nine. He is 5-0 with a 1.17 ERA this month with 29 strikeouts.