Expos 7, Mariners 3

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SEATTLE (AP)—Frank Robinson doesn’t care if baseball fans overlook his Montreal Expos.

“It’s what we feel about ourselves that’s the only thing that’s important,” the 67-year-old manager said after the Expos won their fifth consecutive game by beating the Seattle Mariners 7-3 Tuesday night.

Montreal ace Javier Vazquez pitched six solid innings and Endy Chavez homered and drove in a career-high four runs. Orlando Cabrera added a two-run homer for the Expos.

Playing the Mariners for the first time, Montreal sent Seattle’s Gil Meche (8-3) to his first loss in five starts since May 10.

The Expos lost eight of their first nine on their 22-game, 25-day, six-city trip away from Montreal.

“We’re playing good baseball,” Robinson said. “We’re back to getting timely hitting, good pitching and the defense has picked up again. We broke down in all the areas there early in the trip. We made mistakes, put people on base, didn’t hit very much.”

Robinson made a point to emphasize his Expos were catching their second wind on their trip.

“We feel very good,” he said. “Well rested and very good. We’re ready to play baseball.”

Vazquez (6-3) allowed three runs on eight hits and two walks, striking out seven. He has 107 strikeouts this season, second in the majors behind Kerry Wood’s 111 for the Chicago Cubs.

“I was inconsistent today and it wasn’t pretty on my part, but we got it done,” Vazquez said.

The Expos are 5-0 since Vladimir Guerrero went on the disabled list with a herniated disc in his back. It’s unknown how long Guerrero will be out.

“We need Guerrero in the lineup, but we have a good team and we can do it, too,” Vazquez said. “It’s a good boost for us not having Guerrero in the lineup and still winning games.”

The Expos, who played their second series of the season in San Juan, Puerto Rico, last week, beat a Mariners team that just returned from an 11-1 road trip, the most victories in franchise history on a road trip.

“There is a reason they are doing well,” said Seattle’s Jeff Cirillo, who had three hits. “They have great starting pitching and the bullpen was lights out tonight.”

Montreal relievers pitched three shutout innings, with Luis Ayala getting five outs for his second save.

The Expos got two runs in the seventh to take the lead.

Brian Schneider singled with one out and Michael Barrett chased Meche with an RBI double, scoring Schneider from first. With Shigetoshi Hasegawa pitching, Edwards Guzman moved Barrett to third with a groundout and Chavez singled in Barrett.

“I made some bad pitches,” Meche said. “I left them out over the plate. The last few games, I’ve been making a bunch of mistakes late in the game.”

Chavez hit a three-run homer in the ninth off Giovanni Carrara, making it 7-3. Chavez finished with three hits.

The Mariners took a 3-2 lead in the sixth on Cirillo’s RBI double, scoring Randy Winn from first.

Ichiro Suzuki was involved in Seattle’s first two runs. In the first, he tripled and scored on Carlos Guillen’s groundout.

In the fourth, the Mariners tied it at 2. Winn and Cirillo opened the inning with singles and Dan Wilson sacrificed them up before Suzuki’s grounder to Vazquez brought in Winn. Suzuki was safe on the play when first baseman Guzman failed to touch first for an error.

The Expos got a two-run homer from Cabrera in the third, his ninth.

Notes

Mariners manager Bob Melvin said closer Kazuhiro Sasaki wasn’t available because of “discomfort,” but wouldn’t say where the discomfort was. Sasaki, who has eight saves in 12 opportunities this season, was on the DL from April 23 to May 7 with a strained muscle in his lower right back. Sasaki had a sore shoulder this spring and is coming off offseason surgery to remove bone chips from his right elbow. … Expos officials talked to officials in Portland, Ore., on Tuesday about the possibility of relocating there. … Montreal is 5-2 against the AL West this season. … Vazquez is 1-0 in interleague play this season and 3-5 lifetime against AL teams. … The Mariners lost their third in a row at Safeco Field. … Robinson was Melvin’s manager when Melvin was a backup catcher for the Baltimore Orioles from 1989-91. … Cirillo was thrown out at the plate by left fielder Brad Wilkerson in the fourth when he tried to score on Guillen’s flyball. … The Mariners got DH Edgar Martinez back in the starting lineup after playing six consecutivegames in NL parks, but Martinez was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.

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