On Thursday, Vazquez scattered six hits over seven innings in a 1-0 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks. He also struck out nine, taking over the major league lead with 46 this season.
“It feels good, but I’m not trying to lead the league in strikeouts,” the hard-throwing right-hander said. “It’s a good sign, but it’s not what I’m trying to do.
“I don’t try to strike out people, but in some situations, I try to because sometimes you are not going to get that double play. I’m not a groundball pitcher. I need the strikeout sometimes.”
Vazquez held an opponent scoreless for the second time this season. On April 3, he gave up seven hits over 5 2-3 innings in a 4-0 win over the Atlanta Braves.
“Javy wasn’t as sharp as he was the last time out there, but he was pretty darn good,” Montreal manager Frank Robinson said Thursday.
In his previous start, Vazquez gave up four earned runs and five hits but struck out 11 in a 9-5 win over the Cincinnati Reds.
The Expos come in off Sunday’s 6-3 loss to the Houston Astros, snapping a three-game winning streak.
Michael Barrett, who entered hitting .093, hit a home run for Montreal, which went 4-2 on its first true homestand at Olympic Stadium after going 6-4 at its home away from home in Puerto Rico.
“We didn’t do much out there offensively. We couldn’t get anything started until the home run,” Robinson said. “But you have those kind of games. You have those days, and you have to give the other team credit.”
The Brewers come in off Sunday’s 7-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves—their fifth setback in six games.
After a 12-5 win in the series opener, Milwaukee managed just nine hits in the final two games and was outscored 10-3.
“The off day (Monday) comes at the right time for us,” Milwaukee manager Ned Yost said. “It’ll be nice to take it easy, relax a day and regroup.”
STANDINGS (through April 27): Expos - 1st place (tied), NL East. Brewers - 6th place, 5 GB, NL Central.
EXPOS PROBABLE STARTER: Vazquez (3-1, 2.48 ERA). In 11 career starts against the Brewers, Vazquez is 4-5 with a 6.18 ERA—tied for his worst mark against any NL team.
BREWERS PROBABLE STARTER: Matt Kinney (2-1, 2.57 ERA). On Thursday, Kinney pitched three hitless innings of relief in the Brewers’ 4-2 loss to the Florida Marlins. Kinney, who has never faced the Expos, is 2-1 with a 3.00 ERA in three starts this season.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Expos - Jose Vidro, .330 avg; Vladimir Guerrero, 5 HRs, 17 RBIs and 3 SBs.; Vidro, Endy Chavez and Guerrero, 16 runs. Brewers - Alex Sanchez, .337 avg; Richie Sexson, 8 HRs and 18 runs; Geoff Jenkins and Sexson, 16 RBIs; Sanchez and Eric Young, 3 SBs.
2002 SEASON SERIES: Expos, 4-2.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Expos - RHP Orlando Hernandez, who has not pitched since March 13 because of rotator cuff tendinitis, will begin his rehab assignment on Monday for Class-A Brevard County. … The Expos have outscored their opponents 22-5 in the first inning this season. … The Expos’ bullpen has stranded 32 of 36 inherited base runners (89 percent) this season. Brewers - 1B Sexson was hitless in his final nine at-bats of the series with Atlanta after hitting three home runs and a double in the opener. … The Brewers have not homered in seven of their last eight games. … Brewers pitchers rank second-to-last in the NL with a 5.29 ERA.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Expos - 5-4 on the road; Brewers - 4-6 at home.
INJURIES: Expos - RHP Tony Armas Jr. (rotator cuff), 15-day DL; RHP Hernandez (rotator cuff), 15-day DL. Brewers - OF Jeffrey Hammonds (ankle), 15-day DL; RHP Jayson Durocher (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Nick Neugebauer (shoulder), 15-day DL.