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Expos break out whuppin' sticks

Montreal beats Atlanta after season-high 17 hits; Juneau's Chad Bentz sees action

Posted: Thursday, June 03, 2004

ATLANTA - Einar Diaz gave the Montreal Expos and manager Frank Robinson something to smile about.

Diaz, a backup catcher making only his 10th start, drove in his first three runs of the season, and Montreal beat the Atlanta Braves 8-4 Wednesday night to avoid a three-game sweep.

"I didn't expect much from him," Robinson said. "He hasn't been playing much, but he hit tonight like he's been playing on a daily basis."

It was only the third win in 13 games for the Expos, who have the worst record in the majors (17-35). Orlando Cabrera, Tony Batista and Juan Rivera each had three of Montreal's season-high 17 hits.

The Braves, who fell back to .500, failed in their attempt to match their season high of three straight wins.

The Expos had lost seven straight at Turner Field.

Diaz had run-scoring singles in the third and fourth, and the Expos scored three runs in each inning off Mike Hampton (1-6). Diaz added a sacrifice fly in the eighth and finished 2-for-4, raising his average to .188.

The three RBIs matched his career high set last Aug. 3 with Texas against Cleveland. Diaz, who batted eighth, came to Montreal in a trade on April 3.

"He gave us some production down there, something we needed," said Robinson, who did not indicate whether Diaz would take some playing time away from starter Brian Schneider.

"But he got my attention tonight," Robinson said.

Diaz admitted playing a limited role makes it difficult to hit.

"I finally hit the ball a little better. I'll take it. It was a big game for me, but the win was bigger," he said. "It's tough, but I have to work with it. I'm just happy I did my job tonight. I got some good pitches to hit and got the runs in."

Expos starter Claudio Vargas (4-3) pitched six innings. He allowed four hits and four runs, walked four and struck out two.

After Vargas left the game, Chad Bentz of Juneau, Luis Ayala and Rocky Biddle combined for three shutout innings to close out the victory for the Expos.

Bentz pitched two-thirds of an inning, getting Rafael Furcal to ground out on a bunt to the pitcher, striking out Nick Green, giving up a single to J.D. Drew and walking Johnny Estrada on nine pitches. Bentz then gave way to Ayala, who struck out Andruw Jones to end the seventh inning.

The Braves scored in the first on a two-out single by Drew, who went to second on a wild pitch and scored on an RBI double by Estrada.

Estrada leads the majors with a .537 average (22-for-41) with runners in scoring position.

Atlanta added a run in the third without a hit. With two outs, Vargas walked Drew, Estrada and Jones, then hit Dewayne Wise in the foot with a pitch, forcing in Drew.

Wise and Mike Hessman hit solo home runs in the sixth off Vargas to get the Braves to 6-4.

Hampton threw 82 pitches before leaving in the fourth without getting an out. Jose Vidro led off with a single and went to second when second baseman Green booted Batista's liner for an error. Cabrera walked, loading the bases, and Hampton walked Nick Johnson, forcing in a run and bringing in reliever Antonio Alfonseca.

"I pretty much got my tail kicked," said Hampton, whose ERA rose to 5.49. "Tonight was pretty ugly. I don't point fingers except at the guy I see in the mirror every day."

Astros 5, Cubs 1

CHICAGO - Roger Clemens won for the first time at Wrigley Field, keeping his perfect season intact by pitching the Houston Astros past the Chicago Cubs.

Clemens (8-0) allowed one run - on Todd Hollandsworth's broken-bat single - and five hits in seven innings. The 41-year-old Rocket, making his second start at Wrigley, earned his 318th career victory, tying Phil Niekro for the 14th place on the all-time list. Clemens has won 12 straight regular-season decisions since Aug. 9.

Reds 3, Marlins 1

MIAMI - Sean Casey singled in the seventh to break up Dontrelle Willis' perfect-game bid, then hit a tiebreaking two-run homer in the ninth off Matt Perisho as Cincinnati completed a three-game sweep.

Brian Reith (2-1), who worked a scoreless eighth, got his second win in as many days. Danny Graves worked a perfect ninth for his major league-leading 26th save.

Padres 2, Rockies 1, 10 innings

SAN DIEGO - Jay Payton hit an RBI single past the glove of diving second baseman Aaron Miles with two outs in the 10th inning.

Padres closer Trevor Hoffman (1-0) came on with the score tied at 1 and pitched a perfect 10th, with two strikeouts.

Diamondbacks 8, Giants 6

PHOENIX - Randy Johnson won his fourth start in a row and Shea Hillenbrand homered and drove in three runs in Arizona's victory over San Francisco.

Robby Hammock also knocked in three runs with a pair of doubles for the Diamondbacks, who snapped the Giants' 10-game winning streak Tuesday night.

Dodgers 5, Brewers 2

LOS ANGELES - Paul Lo Duca homered and drove in three runs, Edwin Jackson pitched five strong innings and Los Angeles beat Milwaukee.

Jackson (1-0) was called up from the minors earlier in the day. He allowed one run, three hits and three walks with three strikeouts.

Cardinals 5, Pirates 3

PITTSBURGH - Albert Pujols hit his major league-leading 17th home run, Tony Womack had four hits and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Pujols' two-run shot in the first inning gave him a home run in four of his last five games and helped the Cardinals win for the sixth time in seven games - including three straight.

Mets 5, Phillies 3, 10 innings

PHILADELPHIA - Todd Zeile hit a tying, three-run homer in the eighth inning and a two-run drive in the 10th, leading the New York Mets over the Philadelphia Phillies for a three-game sweep.

A night after Zeile hit tying homer in the eighth and a go-ahead single in the 10th in New York's 4-1 win, he did in the Phillies again. Zeile drove a 2-1 pitch from Roberto Hernandez (1-2) through a heavy rain and over the right-field wall. David Weathers (5-1) was the winner.



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