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Willie helps whack Cardinals
Cairo native goes 6-for-6
BRAVES 4 col col
Willie Harris connects follows through on a three-run triple as St. Louis Cardinals catcher Gary Bennett looks on in the fourth inning in Atlanta, Saturday. It was Harris' second triple of the game. The Cairo, Ga., native went 6-for-6 with four singles, two triples, six RBIs and four runs scored as the Braves routed St. Louis 14-6 - photo by Associated Press
    ATLANTA — Willie Harris became the second player in Atlanta history with six hits in a game, going 6-for-6 with two triples and six RBIs to help the Atlanta Braves beat the St. Louis Cardinals 14-6 on Saturday night.
    Felix Milan, in 1970, was the last Braves player with a six-hit game. Harris is the franchise’s seventh player to reach the mark.
    Chipper Jones hit his 16th homer and had four RBIs for Atlanta, which set a single-game franchise record with a crowd of 53,953 at Turner Field. The Braves won for the ninth time in 15 games.
    The top three Braves hitters combined to go 12-for-13.
    Buddy Carlyle (5-2) allowed seven hits, three runs, one walk, two strikeouts in six innings. The right-hander gave up Chris Duncan’s 19th homer in the fourth, which cut the lead to 7-3, but the Braves scored seven runs in their half of the inning.
    Harris was the catalyst with an RBI single in the second, a two-run triple in the third and a bases-loaded triple in the fourth. Through four innings, Harris was 4-for-4 and the Braves had 17 hits.
    His two-run triple chased Braden Looper (7-8), who allowed 10 hits, seven runs and one walk in 3 2-3 innings before Troy Cate gave up four hits, four runs and three walks in one-third of an inning in relief.
    Jones had a two-run single in the second to make it 4-0.
    Carlyle, who won his third straight start and improved to 4-1 since Boston beat him 11-0 on June 20, drove in the first run of the fourth with a bases-loaded single off Cate to make it 8-3.
    Troy Percival relieved Cate, giving up three hits and three runs in two innings.
    Carlyle, who left for a pinch-hitter, was replaced by Wil Ledezma in the seventh. The Cardinals scored three runs off Ledezma, an error by third baseman Chris Woodward and an RB1 single by Skip Schumaker and Duncan’s RBI groundout.

Diaz’s production still soaring
    Matt Diaz attributes his success with the Braves to an approach hitting coach Terry Pendleton uses that differs greatly with what he was taught in Kansas City.
    After spending two seasons in the Royals’ organization, Diaz has a .339 average in 502 at-bats since Atlanta traded for him in December 2005.
    Diaz managed a .281 average in 34 games and 89 at-bats in 2005, but it wasn’t easy.
    ‘‘They wanted me to be a different hitter than I was,’’ he said. ‘‘Go deep in the count to get into the bullpen. Here, they just want you to do what works for you.’’
    In a platoon last year with former Braves left fielder Ryan Langerhans, Diaz hit .327 with seven homers and 32 RBIs. He’s sharing the job this year with Willie Harris, and manager Bobby Cox likes what he’s seen from Diaz, who helped Florida State reach the 1999 College World Series.
    ‘‘The way he started in spring training this year, we thought he’d hit .500,’’ Cox said. ‘‘It doesn’t surprise me.’’
    Cox knows he can count on Diaz in a pinch, too. In 28 at-bats as a pinch-hitter, Diaz leads the majors with 11 hits for a .429 average.
    Overall, the 29-year-old native of Portland, Ore., has the best average in the majors (.391, 12-for-28) since April 30.

On the Ball
    When right fielder Jeff Francoeur walked in the sixth inning on Friday, it gave him 23 this season, the same number he had all of last year.
    Francoeur heard the criticism that he wasn’t selective enough in 2006, his first full season in the majors.
    Not surprisingly, the increase in walks is a reflection of better patience and discipline at the plate. His average through the first 98 games was 31 points higher, at .291, than his 2006 mark.
    Improving his pitch selection has only increased Francoeur’s value to the Braves. His 65 RBIs were tied with Andruw Jones for the club lead entering Saturday, and his 12 outfield assists lead the majors since Atlanta called him up from Double-A Mississippi on July 7, 2005.

    Reliever Rafael Soriano has allowed five earned runs with two blown saves in his last 3 1-3 innings, but Cox isn’t worried about the right-hander.
    ‘‘Not really. He’s throwing awfully hard,’’ Cox said. ‘‘It’s location. The same old thing. When the pitcher gets hit a little bit, it’s generally location.’’ ...
    With an eight-run lead entering their half of the seventh inning on Saturday, the Braves were hoping to improve to 36-15 when scoring at least four runs. ...
    Shortstop Edgar Renteria went 3-for-3 before leaving in the fourth, increasing his team lead in hits to 126. He entered the game ranked fourth in the NL.