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Notes: Cox talks back of rotation

Notes: Cox talks back of rotation

WASHINGTON -- Atlanta manager Bobby Cox addressed the fourth and fifth slots in the Braves' rotation Monday afternoon in the visitors' dugout of Robert F. Kennedy Stadium.

According to Cox, Lance Cormier will take the hill in Tuesday's game against the Nationals and the Atlanta skipper is considering giving Oscar Villareal a start in the finale of the four-game set with Washington.

Villareal has toiled in the Atlanta bullpen all season, and been very successful in doing so, posting a 7-0 record to start the season, the best for a Braves pitcher since Mike Remlinger went 7-0 to start the 2000 campaign.

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Villareal is no stranger to extended relief work, having gone two or more innings 12 times this season, including 10 of his last 15 appearances. The right-hander went 4 2/3 innings scoreless innings on June 23 against Tampa Bay in relief, but has yet to start a game this season for Atlanta.

Struggles for Yates: Cox talked to reporters on Monday about trying to take some positives away from the Braves' recent struggles. Though the skipper hit on some high notes, on of the things Cox mentioned, in a negative way, were the struggles of reliever Taylor Yates.

Yates blew his second save of the season Sunday against Milwaukee when he allowed the tying run to score in the seventh inning of an eventual 7-4 Atlanta win. The reliever has struggled recently, giving up a season-high four runs and taking the loss Aug. 9 against Philadelphia.

"One of the things that wasn't positive in the game was Yates," Cox said. "But he's got good stuff and we felt we should give him a shot."

One of the things probably led Cox to give Yates a shot in big situations was the performance of the right-handed reliever in the month of July. Yates posted a 1.35 ERA and held opponents to a .116 batting average in 13 1/3 July innings.

Pulling for Hudson: Atlanta's Tim Hudson is showing signs of perhaps breaking out of his season-long funk in his last two starts, particularly his performance against Milwaukee his last time on the hill.

Hudson's recent improvement and escapability is exactly what Cox wants to see, particularly with his team not yet out of the Wild Card race.

"Timmy left that game with just one run," Cox said. "Sometimes you just pull for certain guys. ... He worked out of some jams in the first few innings."

Quotable: "It was 32, 38 years ago. You see the yellow line on the top of that fence? That's about where mine went. ... You see that yellow line? That's what they painted for me." -- Cox commenting on a home run he hit at RFK and comparing it to the lengthy blasts of Frank "Hondo" Howard. Howard's longest shots are commemorated by white seats in left, left-center and center field of the upper deck.

Stats of the day: The Braves are 9-1-1 in their last 11 season series against Washington, with their only season series loss coming in 2000 (6-7). ... The Nationals and Braves are tied for the Major League lead in pinch hits with 48. ... Marcus Giles has a .438 average against Ramon Ortiz with two home runs in 16 career at-bats against the Washington right-hander.

Coming up: The Braves continue their four-game series at RFK with a 7:05 p.m. ET contest with the Nationals. Cormier (2-3, 6.12) will take the hill for Atlanta against Washington's Pedro Astacio (2-2, 5.56).

Michael Walsh is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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