Phillies use longball to beat Expos

Juneaus Chad Bentz gives up first run of career for Montreal

Posted: Sunday, April 18, 2004

PHILADELPHIA - David Bell is healthy, Pat Burrell is hitting like he used to and they're both giving Philadelphia a look at how well the ball carries in its new ballpark.

Bell and Burrell homered, as did Placido Polanco and Bobby Abreu in the Phillies' 6-3 win Saturday over the Montreal Expos.

"The ball was carrying, but you've still got to put the good part of the bat on it," Bell said.

Abreu's homer, a solo shot in the eighth inning, came off Juneau's Chad Bentz, a rookie relief pitcher for Montreal. It was the first run Bentz has allowed in his brief career. Bentz pitched two-thirds of an inning and that was the only hit he allowed.

Kevin Millwood (1-2) gave up three runs and seven hits in seven innings and struck out seven to win his fifth straight decision against Montreal.

Roberto Hernandez and Billy Wagner finished. Wagner, whose pitches reached 100 mph, got three straight outs for his fourth save as Philadelphia won its third straight following a 1-6 start.

Montreal, which has lost six consecutive games, has scored just 15 runs in 11 games and has not scored more than three runs in any game. The Expos (2-9) are on their longest losing streak since dropping six in a row from Aug. 29 to Sept. 3 last year.

The Expos, who had seven hits, have the worst batting average (.187), on-base percentage (.244) and slugging percentage (.263) in the major leagues. Left fielder Terrmel Sledge went 0-for-4 and is 0-for-18 this season.

"We got some better swings today," manager Frank Robinson. "We just haven't put it all together yet. Hopefully, it will start tomorrow."

The Phillies are finally starting to hit and the ball seems to carry well in their new ballpark. After hitting only two home runs in their first seven games, the Phillies have eight in their last three.

"There are some guys that are struggling, but we are coming out of it," manager Larry Bowa said.

Bell was limited to only 85 games last season, playing just twice after the All-Star break because of a back problem and hip trouble that followed. He hit .195 with four home runs and 37 RBIs.

This year, he second on the team in RBIs and has two home runs.

"I want to be out playing and I'm getting the chance to that," Bell said. "I feel great and am just excited about our team and being out there and playing. It's going how I want it to be."

Though it's early, Burrell seems to have put last year's awful .209, 64 RBI-season behind him. Burrell changed his stance, dropped his hands and early hits gave him a confidence boost. He was 2-for-3 with two runs scored and a walk against the Expos.

"Last year he swung at everything," Bowa said. "He's very confident when he steps in the box. His confidence is pretty high right now."

With the score 3-all in the fourth, Burrell singled off John Patterson (1-1) and Bell homered. Abreu added an eighth-inning homer for the final run.

Patterson (1-1) gave up five runs and five hits in four innings.

"I just felt like I wasn't aggressive enough with my pitches and that hurt me," Patterson said.

Polanco hit a solo shot in the first and three batters later Burrell had a two-run homer that hit the netting on the right-field foul pole. Burrell also had one of two Philadelphia homers in Friday's 4-2 win.

Montreal tied it on Brad Wilkerson's RBI single in the second and Brian Schneider's two-run homer in the fourth.

Millwood's seven innings were the most by a Phillies starter this season and he won for the first time since last Sept. 3.

"It seems likes it's been four years since I had a win," he said. "To get that first one out of the way, hopefully it will snowball into a lot more."



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