Penny-wise Expos beat Marlins, 3-2

Juneau's Bentz sees first major league action with 2/3 inning of scoreless relief

Posted: Thursday, April 08, 2004

MIAMI - Brad Penny's curveball wasn't breaking, and the Montreal Expos noticed.

Carl Everett and Orlando Cabrera each homered off Penny to lift the Expos to a 3-2 win over the Florida Marlins on Wednesday night.

Juneau's Chad Bentz also made his debut for the Expos, pitching two-thirds of an inning of scoreless relief in the seventh. Bentz allowed one hit, a two-out, two-strike single to Juan Pierre, and threw seven strikes in his nine pitches.

It was a rare victory against Penny, who has beaten the Expos more than anyone in the last five seasons. It also snapped Florida's seven-game winning streak at home against Montreal.

Everett hit a two-run shot to center in the first with Jose Vidro aboard, and Cabrera added a solo shot in the sixth that just cleared the wall in left.

Everett crushed a hanging curve and received some help from a strong wind. Five innings later, Cabrera was expecting - and got - a fastball because Penny struggled all night with his breaking ball.

"His curveball wasn't working that good, and that's his game," Cabrera said. "When it's working, his fastball seems like it's 100 mph. Today, we were always looking for that fastball."

The homers proved to be enough for Claudio Vargas, who allowed four hits in six innings. One of eight NL rookies to make 20 or more starts last season, Vargas struck out four and walked three.

He surrendered an unearned run in the fourth when Peter Bergeron and Ron Calloway nearly collided trying to catch Mike Lowell's deep fly ball in left center. Bergeron was charged with an error, Lowell advanced to second and later scored on Hee Seop Choi's single. Choi has four of the team's six RBIs this season.

The Marlins loaded the bases with one out in the second, but Vargas retired Alex Gonzalez on a sharp liner and Penny on a popup.

"He was in command since the second inning, when he got off track there," Expos manager Frank Robinson said. "The maturity he showed, he developed, he got out of that jam. He pitched an outstanding six innings, which was exactly what we needed, especially against a guy we don't have too much luck with - maybe no luck at all."

Penny lost for just the third time in 15 games against the Expos. He had been 10-2 with a 2.26 ERA against the Canadian club.

He said he threw more changeups than ever because he wasn't getting any bite on his curve.

"I just wasn't snapping it off," said Penny, who allowed a team-high 21 homers last season.



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