WASHINGTON -- During the first two months of the season, Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell couldn't have been any more pleased with the way his right hip had responded to surgery.

It appeared as if Lowell's Spring Training prediction that he could play 150 games wasn't so far off.

However, the grind of the season is starting to set in, and Lowell has been finding it harder to get loose of late.

The veteran got Saturday and Sunday off leading into Monday's off-day for the Red Sox.

With no designated hitter for Boston for this entire week, including the series that just concluded against Washington and the one that will take place in Atlanta this weekend, Lowell is getting some additional down time.

Lowell didn't play on Wednesday night, and following a late night of travel after Thursday's loss, could be out again on Friday. Under that scenario, the Red Sox would again have David Ortiz at first base with Kevin Youkilis moving across the diamond to third.

The Red Sox and Lowell are also trying to find the right course of action that will allow him to get through the season as healthy as possible.

There's a possibility Lowell will get a shot in the near future to loosen up the area and alleviate some of the pain.

According to The Boston Globe, the Red Sox are also considering putting Lowell on a structured plan where he gets a day off a week, similar to what the Yankees recently announced with Alex Rodriguez.

"I know [manager Terry Francona] mentioned we'll take a look at the schedule," Lowell said recently. "We'll play around with a day off before an off-day and maybe take advantage of two of them. I think we still have to look at this from the long term."

Earlier this week, Francona admitted that he needs to be more proactive about finding breathers for Lowell.

"I think it was my mistake that I went [that long] because he doesn't complain," said Francona. "I probably need to be more aware of making him take a day, even when it aggravates him, so he won't drag that hip the second part of the year."

Pitching matchup
BOS: RHP Josh Beckett (8-3, 3.74 ERA)
Beckett is in the midst a dominant stretch that affirms precisely why the Red Sox traded for him prior to the 2006 season. Boston's ace made quick work of the Braves last Saturday at Fenway Park, firing a five-hit shutout for his seventh career win against Atlanta. He threw 94 pitches in the contest, the lowest total among the righty's six career complete games. Over his past six outings, Beckett is 4-1 with a 1.44 ERA and 42 strikeouts.

ATL: RHP Jair Jurrjens (5-5, 2.89 ERA)
Jurrjens' latest experience with misfortune occurred on Sunday, when his own error allowed the Red Sox to score three unearned runs in the first inning. A seventh-inning rally spared the 23-year-old right-hander from losing a fourth consecutive start. Over the course of his past four starts, he's gone 0-3 with a 3.80 ERA. The Braves have scored a total of three runs during the past 21 innings that Jurrjens has pitched. While offensive support has been minimal, the young hurler has also hurt himself with inconsistent command during the early innings of his past four starts.

Tidbits
Despite Thursday's loss, the Sox have won 11 of their past 15. ... Since the start of Interleague Play, the Red Sox are 22-26 against the Braves. ... Youkilis leads the American League with a .442 on-base percentage. ... This will be the fifth time the Red Sox have played at Turner Field in the past eight seasons.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• NESN

On radio
• WRKO 680, SBN 1150 (Español)

Up next
• Saturday: Red Sox (Tim Wakefield, 9-3, 4.47) at Braves (Javier Vazquez, 5-6, 3.18), 4:00 p.m. ET
• Sunday: Red Sox (Brad Penny, 6-2, 4.93) at Braves (Tommy Hanson, 3-0, 3.13), 1:30 p.m. ET
• Monday: Red Sox (Jon Lester, 6-6, 4.68) at Orioles (Jason Berken, 1-4, 6.32), 7:05 p.m. ET