Expos 6, Giants 3

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP)—When Claudio Vargas walked into the training room to pick up an ice pack for his arm, the game ball from his first big league victory was waiting for him.

Getting the win took longer than the right-hander would have liked, but he wasn’t complaining.

Vargas worked into the ninth inning and the Montreal Expos sent the San Francisco Giants to their fifth straight loss, 6-3 on Wednesday.

“It feels very nice,” said Vargas, who plans to keep the ball in a special place back home in the Dominican Republic. “This is my first win in the major leagues. The other three games I pitched well. I never thought I’d go for a shutout.”

Ron Calloway and Jeff Liefer homered, and Vladimir Guerrero hit a two-run single in a five-run seventh for the Expos (25-15), who moved 10 games over .500 for the first time since finishing the 1996 season at 88-74.

Montreal swept a series in San Francisco for the first time since 1995 and has won six of eight at Pacific Bell Park. The Giants are on their longest skid since dropping eight straight in May 2000.

“To beat a team like San Francisco is really a confidence boost for me, and for my team,” Calloway said.

The 23-year-old Vargas (1-1) outpitched fellow rookie Jesse Foppert (2-3), who had won his previous two outings.

Vargas had been impressive in his previous three starts but couldn’t get a win. He allowed two runs and five hits in eight-plus innings against the NL champion Giants.

“Vargas was just tremendous,” manager Frank Robinson said. “He’s pitched very well and if he continues to pitch well he’ll continue to get his wins.”

Vargas left after allowing a leadoff homer to Rich Aurilia and a single to Barry Bonds in the ninth. Vargas was greeted with many high-fives from his teammates as he walked into the dugout.

Rocky Biddle came in and loaded the bases with no outs before ending the game with three straight groundouts, including two that scored runs.

Vargas’ only strikeout came in the sixth inning when he caught Bonds looking at a full-count pitch with Aurilia on first. Bonds, who argued the first strike, remained at home plate for about a minute talking to umpire Laz Diaz. Manager Felipe Alou came out to calm down Bonds, who took three strikes in the at-bat.

Vargas believes he may have surprised the Giants because, he said, fellow Dominican Neifi Perez is the only San Francisco player who knows him. They’ll remember him now, all right. Vargas planned to call some friends to discuss his day.

Foppert, 22, pitched 6 2-3 innings in his fifth major league start, allowing four runs and six hits, striking out six and walking four.

After giving up Calloway’s solo homer on the first pitch in the fifth, Foppert loaded the bases in seventh. He should have been out of the inning with no damage, but Perez failed to cover second base on Henry Mateo’s infield single to Aurilia at shortstop. That would have been the third out.

“I have to make better pitches,” Foppert said. “I made some mistakes in the seventh and it cost us the game.”

Perez has been playing at second in place of injured regular Ray Durham, on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained right ankle. Perez defended the way he handled the play. Orlando Cabrera was the runner going to second.

“He’s a speed guy,” Perez said. “Even if I go to the bag he beats me. The pitch was a changeup, so he might pull the ball. I was playing him to pull. I was trying to cover as much ground as I could.”

Joe Nathan then relieved and gave up a Guererro’s two-run single and a three-run homer to Liefer that went over the outstretched glove of Marquis Grissom in center. Guerrero broke out of an 0-for-13 slump by going 3-for-4 Tuesday.

Nathan has allowed his last nine inherited runners to score, including giving up a three-run double in Monday’s 4-3 loss. Alou has considered resting him for a couple of days, though Nathan said that’s not necessary and that his arm is fine.

“In a situation with the bases loaded, my location wasn’t good,” he said. “I feel good. I’m just in a tough stretch and I have to find a way to get outof this.”


Giants OF Marvin Benard underwent a 27-minute arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. Benard was placed on the disabled list Friday, retroactive to May 5, with a swollen knee. He had played two games of a rehabilitation assignment at Triple-A Fresno. He will miss three-to-six weeks. … The Expos have scored in the seventh inning in eight straight games, and in seven of those they have put up at least two runs. … The Giants hit into two moredouble plays after hitting into five Tuesday.

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