Washington (31-56) at Atlanta (45-42)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Atlanta, GA
Temp: 86° F
  • Game info: 7:35 pm EDT Thu Jul 15, 2004
  • TV: SPSO
Preview | Box Score | Recap

With another series against the National League East’s top team looming, the Atlanta Braves will have to settle for the division’s worst when they open a four-game set with the Montreal Expos.

The Braves, who have won 12 of 15, took two of three from the Philadelphia Phillies to pull within a game of the NL East’s first-place team.

While the Braves, Phillies, New York Mets and Florida Marlins are all in the race, the Expos have been lingering at the bottom of the division. Montreal comes off the All-Star break tied with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Kansas City Royals for the fewest wins in baseball.

Atlanta now faces Expos starter Livan Hernandez, whom they have beaten three times this season. Hernandez lost to the Braves in his last start, yielding six runs and eight hits in two innings as the Expos lost 14-2 on July 7. The right-hander has an 8.61 ERA in 15 2-3 innings against the Braves this season. Hernandez is 2-11 with a 5.04 ERA in 16 career appearances against Atlanta.

Julio Franco hit a three-run home run, J.D. Drew homered among his four hits and Atlanta beat the Phillies 6-4 on Sunday.

“If all three teams (within two games of Philadelphia) continue playing like this, it’s going to be a great race,” Franco said. “To see it and play it, it’s just great.”

Drew has tied his career-long hitting streak at 11 games. Drew finished 4-for-5 and is 13 for his last 26 and is hitting .455 during his hitting streak. His four-hit game was the fifth of his career and second in the last five days.

Montreal beat Pittsburgh 2-1 in Puerto Rico on Sunday.

Montreal took three of four from Pittsburgh and left Hiram Bithorn Stadium with a 7-14 record after going 13-9 in San Juan last year.

“Three out of four to finish it up—now we have to think the same way in the next series,” Expos manager Frank Robinson said.

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Starting Pitchers

L. Hernandez Mil vs. J. Wright Pit
11-15 Record 15-8
3.60 ERA 3.28
186 K 159
83 BB 70
1.24 WHIP 1.28