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09/24/07 9:00 PM ET

Notes: Harris pleased with Kearns

Hitting coach happy with slugger's second-half production

NEW YORK -- Nationals interim hitting coach Lenny Harris has been on the job since May and he said his most pleasant surprise has been right fielder Austin Kearns. Harris acknowledged that Kearns' swing was out of whack when the former came on board. But it was Harris who later told Kearns to keep his hands further away from his body.

Since the All-Star break, Kearns has been a productive hitter hitting .283 with nine home runs and 36 RBIs entering Monday. Harris also said that Kearns works extremely hard in the batting cage.

"I adjusted his swing a little bit and he has been staying with it the whole time and it has been successful," Harris said. "He has been working extra in the cage. He has been running with it for a good while. The home runs will come."

Harris said when he became the hitting coach, he noticed that a lot of the players were often going for the long ball and he told them they had to shorten their swing. The team is hitting over .260 since he came on board.

"The pressure was getting to them," Harris said. "I told them you can get base hits and drive in runs."

Harris, who is credited for helping Dmitri Young become one of the league leaders in hitting and helping Wily Mo Pena learn to hit to the opposite field, acknowledged that it bothers him that the Nationals are last in the league in runs scored this season, but believes it will get better.

"Hopefully we won't be in last place in the league in runs scored. We have enough offense [to get better]." Harris said.

Injury report: Catcher Jesus Flores said his left elbow is still sore and he was unable to play on Monday. Flores hurt the elbow on Sunday, when Phillies pitcher Geoff Geary hit him with a pitch with the bases loaded.

"I'm afraid to swing and I'm afraid to catch," Flores said.

Left-hander Tom Glavine is pitching for the Mets on Tuesday and manager Manny Acta is hoping that Flores will be in the starting lineup.

Pena was not in the starting lineup because of a sore right hand, which has bothered him since Friday when he was hit by a pitch. Acta is hoping that Pena will be back in the lineup on Tuesday against the Mets.

Stat of the day: Ryan Zimmerman ranks second in the Major Leagues in game-winning hits behind Matt Holliday, who has 18.

Did you know? Entering Friday's action, Zimmerman is one of three big leaguers --- Jeff Francoeur and Jimmy Rollins are the others -- to start every game this season.

Coming up: The Nationals play the second game of a three-game series against the Mets on Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. ET. Washington right-hander Jason Bergmann will face Glavine.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.