Harris, Diaz fill gap in left

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MILWAUKEE - It was only a little more than a month ago that the Braves were desperate for any semblance of offense from the left field position. But the way Matt Diaz and Willie Harris have been hitting these days, that seems like a distant memory.

Through April 24, Diaz was hitting just .217. And he was the one earning playing time for his offense. Atlanta's other left fielder, Ryan Langerhans, was batting .056.

But since the Braves traded Langerhans at the end of April and called up Harris from Triple-A Richmond, Harris and Diaz have been two of the hottest hitters in baseball.

Entering Monday's game against the Brewers, Diaz's .442 average in May was the best in the majors. Harris was not far behind, at .383 this month, good for eighth.

"It's double trouble," Harris said. "He's hitting well against lefties. I'm hitting well against righties. He's more of a power guy. I'm more of a singles guy."

The way the two compliment each other has given the Braves tremendous flexibility, not only in the starting lineup but also in late-inning, pinch-hit situations.

"We couldn't ask for anything more," manager Bobby Cox said. "Diaz was great all year last year. He was sensational. And he's hitting higher this year than he did last year. And Harris has been super."

CHIPPER OUT AGAIN: Chipper Jones sat out for the fifth game in a row Monday because of continuing soreness in his hands. And he indicated after the game that he could be headed for the disabled list.

"It's a possibility," Jones said of a stint on the DL. "It's not for sure yet."

If Jones goes went on the DL, it would be retroactive to last Thursday. Cox said he is hopeful Jones will be able to play this weekend against the Cubs in Chicago.

CORMIER SOLID IN REHAB: Pitcher Lance Cormier made his third rehabilitation start as scheduled, throwing 6w scoreless innings for Triple-A Richmond.

Cormier allowed two hits, four walks and struck out four against the Rochester Red Wings.

Reach Brian Costa at brian.costa@morris.com.


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