"When I called him in [Monday] night, I said, 'You know what? When you're kind of scuffling and you're facing a guy that's good and tough on you, just maybe let Cora play.'" Francona said. "I think he really wanted to play bad, and I'm kind of glad he did. But, and I told him, 'We're not giving up on you. Don't panic. Just let Cora take your at-bats tonight.'
"Cora will probably fire one out to left field for a hit or something, and help us win and make it a little easier on Lugo, because he's had a tough time."
Lugo was dropped from the leadoff spot on June 12. However, moving to the bottom of the order hasn't produced immediate results for Lugo, as he has just two hits in his last 20 at-bats.
Coco improves approach: Though Lugo continues to slump, there is reason to believe that Coco Crisp might be ready to get hot. The center fielder went 4-for-4 and belted two homers in Monday night's loss.
While Crisp has mostly been silent with the media, Francona felt the switch-hitter has been doing a better job of staying back on the ball.
"That ball came off his bat nice twice," Francona said. "He didn't go get it. Hitting is so hard. That ball got in deep, and it was really pretty."
Crisp entered Tuesday with nine hits in his last 14 at-bats.
Reining in Donnelly: Righty Brendan Donnelly, who is on the disabled list retroactive to June 10 with a strained right forearm, has yet to be given clearance to throw.
"He's dying to, but not allowed," Francona said. "That's good that he wants to. When he does, I'll let you know. When I walked in earlier, he was yelling at somebody that he wanted to throw. I figure that's a good sign."
Harris lands on feet: Willie Harris, who split the 2006 season between Boston and Triple-A Pawtucket, has found a home in Atlanta. The left-handed-hitting speedster is hitting .386 with a homer and 12 RBIs.
Harris hit .156 in 45 at-bats for the Sox last year.
"I'm so glad for him," Francona said. "He's the best kid. Our style, he got over here and he was kind of the 25th guy, the pinch-runner coming from the White Sox where they ran. It was really hard for him to adapt to what we were doing. We'd put him in a game, and he'd want to change the game. Sometimes, we'd have someone like David [Ortiz] up. He tried hard and got picked off a couple of times."
On deck: The Sox will send Julian Tavarez (4-4, 4.97 ERA) to the mound in Wednesday's finale of this three-game Interleague series. The rubber-armed righty will be opposed by fellow righty Buddy Carlyle (1-1, 4.44). First pitch is scheduled for 7:35 p.m. ET at Turner Field.