Rockies top Expos in pitchers' duel

Kennedy allows one Montreal hit over six innings; Bentz throws perfect ninth

Posted: Thursday, May 06, 2004

MONTREAL - Joe Kennedy gave the Colorado Rockies' new four-man rotation a great start.

Kennedy allowed one hit over six scoreless innings and Mark Sweeney hit a two-run double to lead Colorado over Montreal 2-0 Wednesday night - the seventh time in 28 games this year the Expos were shut out.

Montreal did give relief pitcher Chad Bentz of Juneau a chance to pick up his first victory after Bentz threw a perfect top of the ninth inning. The Expos put runners on first and second with no outs in the bottom of the ninth, but Rockies closer Shawn Chacon (who was born in Anchorage) got out of the jam to earn the save.

With a major league-high 6.38 ERA going into the game, Rockies manager Clint Hurdle already had decided to go with only four starters for the rest of May.

Kennedy (4-0) pitched on three days' rest, giving up just Juan Rivera's single in the second inning.

"It's probably important to get off to a good start when you have a four-man rotation," Kennedy said. "It will give me a little more confidence to go out there next time."

Kennedy, whose next scheduled start is Sunday in Chicago, struck out six and walked two.

"He was a hot knife through butter," Hurdle said.

Sweeney hit for Kennedy in the seventh with runners on first and second doubled on a 3-2 pitch from Zach Day (2-3) to drive in the game's only runs.

"As utility guys we want to do our piece and help the team win, especially that Joe was throwing well," Sweeney said.

Sweeney, who got his 100th career pinch hit Saturday, is hitting .364 in 11 pinch-hit at-bats with six RBIs.

"He's made a living doing that," Hurdle said. "He's got a hundred hits in front of him before that pinch hit, it's his 101st and it might have been one of the biggest ones. I have a lot more confidence in him hitting there than I did Kennedy."

Kennedy and relievers Tim Harikkala, Brian Fuentes, Victor Nunez and Chacon combined to hold Montreal to five hits. The Expo have scored a major league-low 65 runs. The Expos have scored two or fewer run in 17 games.

"You get a little sick to your stomach the way things have been going," Day said.

The Expos loaded the bases with one out in the eighth, but Nunez got Tony Batista to pop out and Brad Wilkerson to fly out.

Chacon allowed back-to-back singles to Juan Rivera and Terrmel Sledge to begin the ninth. He struck out the next two batters before getting Endy Chavez to fly to left for his seventh save in eight chances.

"It's not how many hits you get, it's when you get them," Expos manager Frank Robinson said. "We were kind of shut down tonight but we still had opportunities to win the ballgame and we just didn't come through."

In the top of the ninth inning, Bentz struck out Brad Hawpe and got pinch-hitter Kit Pellow to fly out to left. Aaron Miles ended the inning by grounding back to Bentz.

Only 3,609 were on hand as, for the second straight night, Montreal drew its smallest crowd since Sept. 5, 2002, when 2,134 showed up at Olympic Stadium. Several games in the Triple-A International League drew more fans than the Expos. Crowds at Toledo (7,888), Buffalo (5,447) and Richmond (5,114) were among those that topped them.

Day, whose ERA is 3.18, scattered five hits while holding the Rockies scoreless until the seventh inning.

Matt Holliday hit a one-out double and Brad Hawpe was walked intentionally. Sweeney hit a drive over center fielder Endy Chavez's leaping attempt.

"I knew (Kennedy) was pitching a great game, a one-hitter," Sweeney said. "If no one's on, he's hitting there. Day didn't give me much to hit in the at-bat. I was just trying to see a strike and drive the ball. I was looking for something elevated."

Chavez led off the first with the first of three straight bunts by Montreal and reached on an error by second baseman Aaron Miles.

Jose Vidro sacrificed Chavez to second before Orlando Cabrera also bunted and was thrown out.

Asked how he reacted to Cabrera's decision to bunt in that situation, Kennedy said simply, "Thank you."

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