ATLANTA -- He may have unlocked the secret of making his bat useful again, but Coco Crisp is still at his spectacular best with a glove on his wrist.
A night after he had his first 4-for-4 game as a member of the Red Sox and his first two-homer game as a pro, Crisp made another signature catch in center field, one that may rival the chart-topper he made on David Wright of the Mets last summer in Fenway Park. In many ways it was similar, Crisp eating up acres of real estate racing from right-center before launching into an all-out dive to catch Tim Hudson's liner in the fifth inning last night.
But for the second straight night, Crisp declined to talk of either his batting or fielding, a choice he has made on other occasions this season.
"I just don't want any PR, or PR man," he said. "I'm just trying to fly under the radar here."
Crisp went 1 for 4 last night, his sixth-inning single setting up Boston's fourth run off Hudson, who was then lifted for Oscar Villarreal.
Coming into the game, Crisp had hits in six straight plate appearances dating to the eighth inning Saturday. He has hit in six straight games, (10 for 18), raising his average from .221 to .247, the highest it has been this season. His longest hitting streak this season is eight games (April 19 to May 2).
Crisp has made some modifications in his stance from both sides of the plate.
"He's standing a little taller," hitting coach Dave Magadan said. "A little less stride. And getting the feeling like he's above the ball instead of like landing with that front leg bent.
"Just trying to get him taller, both ways. If he's not going to load, at least keep him where he holds his position instead of leaning toward the baseball.
"You don't want to swing around your body. If you get all spread out, with your legs and the weight of your upper body, you swing around it, which slows up your bat and you hit a lot of balls weakly. It gets him in a better position where he can generate some bat speed. He's done a real good job, both sides.
"I think it's easier for him to get a load, righthanded. Lefthanded, he's a little more still in his load, so we just try to get him to stand up taller."
Lugo takes a seat
With Julio Lugo
unable to shake his slump -- 0 for 11, 1 for 19, 5 for 47, 14 for 112 -- Francona benched him again last night, playing Alex Cora
at shortstop. Lugo also had had no success against Hudson -- 0 for 10 lifetime -- which factored into Francona's decision. "When you're facing a guy that's good and tough on you, let Cora play," Francona said. "I told him, 'We're not giving up on you. Don't panic. Let Cora take your at-bats for you.' He's having a tough time." The decision paid off, except possibly for Lugo's ego. Cora tripled and scored in the fifth and hit a sacrifice fly in the sixth . . . Padres pitcher Chris Young
, suspended five games for his part in a brawl with Derrek Lee
of the Cubs Saturday, is appealing his suspension, which means he is still on track to pitch against the Sox Friday night in San Diego. The Sox will face Young, 300-game winner Greg Maddux
, and Jake Peavy
, the National League's ERA leader, this weekend in Petco Park.
Brave new world
When Willie Harris
was with the Red Sox, he made for a nice little historical footnote -- he comes from Cairo, Ga., Jackie Robinson's
hometown -- but little more. He batted .156 in 34 games, and didn't fare so well as a pinch runner, getting caught three times in nine steal attempts, including a couple of pickoffs. But after signing a minor league deal with the Braves and getting promoted to the big leagues April 30 after hitting .362 in the minors, Harris has been playing like Robinson. Platooning with Matt Diaz
, Harris came into last night's game batting .386 and doubled in his first at-bat against Beckett. "We had him in spring training," Braves manager Bobby Cox
said, "and Jack Maloof
, our minor league hitting rover, said, 'Why don't you try this no-stride [stance], just get down there and hit the ball?' And that's what he's doing. "He had a nice little spring. We played him everywhere. He got off to such a great start in Triple A, Ryan Langerhans
wasn't hitting, we had to make a move, and we got him up here." Diaz came into last night batting .345 . . . Braves center fielder Andruw Jones
is 0 for his last 18. He is also 0 for 17 against the Sox this season.
© Copyright 2007 Globe Newspaper Company.