The surprising Expos are tied atop the NL East with the Atlanta Braves after sweeping Milwaukee, including a 5-0 victory in the finale of the three-game series on Thursday.
Surprisingly, the Expos are enjoying their success without much of a contribution by All-Star Vladimir Guerrero, who’s hitting just .267.
“That shows the character of this club,” Montreal manager Frank Robinson said. “We’ve been able to post the record that we did without him being his devastating self. Once he gets going, we’ll be that much better off.”
The Cardinals are coming off a three-game sweep of the Mets, capped by a 6-5 win Thursday on Jim Edmonds’ homer with one out in the bottom of the 10th. The NL Central champions, who won the first two games 13-3 and 13-4, moved two games above .500 for the first time since the opening week of the season.
Edgar Renteria was 4-for-4 for his NL-leading 16th multihit game, raising his average to .366.
STANDINGS: Expos - 1st place (tied), NL East. Cardinals - 2nd place, 1 GB, NL Central.
EXPOS PROBABLE STARTER: Tomo Ohka (2-3, 3.18 ERA). The right-hander is coming off his worst start of the season, lasting just three innings of a 6-3 defeat to Houston on April 27. He allowed five runs and seven hits, including two homers. Ohka is 2-2 with a 5.30 ERA in four career starts against Montreal.
CARDINALS PROBABLE STARTER: Jason Simontacchi (0-1, 8.35 ERA). Simontacchi pitched well in his last start, but remained winless on the season despite allowing just two runs and four hits over 6 1-3 innings of a 5-3 loss at Florida On April 27. The right-hander, who did not get a decision, allowed a homer for the third consecutive contest—giving up five in that span. He has never faced the Expos.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Expos - Brad Wilkerson, .326 avg.; Guerrero, 5 HRs, 4 SBs and 18 runs; Guerrero and Orlando Cabrera, 17 RBIs. Cardinals - Albert Pujols, .384 avg and 22 runs.; Edmonds, 6 HRs; Renteria, 24 RBIs; Fernando Vina, 3 SBs.
2002 SEASON SERIES: Tied, 3-3.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Expos - .Montreal leads the majors with six shutouts this season. …The Expos are 6-2 against left-handed starters this year, 12-8 against right-handers. … RHP Orlando Hernandez will make his second rehab start Saturday for Class-A Brevard County of the Florida State League. Cardinals - Thursday marked 1B Tino Martinez’s final game of a three-game suspension for a fight with Diamondbacks pitcher Miguel Batista on April 20. … C Mike Matheny has caught all but 17 innings this season. … SS Renteria has 10 career four-hit games.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Expos - 8-4 on the road; Cardinals - 7-4 at home.
INJURIES: Expos - RHP Tony Armas Jr. (rotator cuff), 15-day DL; RHP Orlando Hernandez (rotator cuff), 15-day DL. Cardinals - C Joe Girardi (back), 15-day DL; C Steve Torrealba (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Jason Isringhausen (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Lance Painter (pelvis), 15-day DL; RHP Chris Carpenter (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Gene Stechschulte (shoulder), 60-day DL.