Expos 3, Mariners 1

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SEATTLE (AP)—The Montreal Expos think they have the right mix of players to go far this season.

Livan Hernandez pitched seven sparkling innings and Michael Barrett hit a tiebreaking sacrifice fly as the Expos won their sixth straight, 3-1 over the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday night.

“We feel great and let’s see what happens,” Hernandez said. “The team is in second place right and we’re working hard.”

Facing Seattle in their first series ever, the Expos handed the Mariners their second loss in two nights after the Mariners returned to Safeco Field from an 11-1 roadtrip in which they averaged 7.3 runs a game. Montreal won 7-3 Tuesday night.

At 39-26, the Expos are second to Atlanta (43-20) in the NL East and would make the playoffs as the NL’s wild-card team if the season ended now.

The Expos’ secret is their tight-knit chemistry, said Hernandez, who was acquired by Montreal late in spring training from San Francisco.

“This team is great,” he said. “Everybody is great together. Everybody’s friends and everybody is your teammate. Everybody plays hard.”

Hernandez (6-4) outpitched Joel Pineiro (5-5) in his second career start against the Mariners. He lost 9-2 on June 11, 2000, when he pitched for the Giants.

Hernandez allowed one run on seven hits and two walks, while striking out seven.

“That was an outstanding seven innings from Livan,” manager Frank Robinson said. “It all starts with pitching and we got that tonight.”

Hernandez, who defected from Cuba, was the 1997 World Series MVP with Florida. He started and lost Game 7 for the Giants during last year’s World Series against Anaheim.

“He’s a veteran pitcher,” Robinson said. “He knows what he wants to do out there, he doesn’t panic, he doesn’t give in and he’s capable of getting out of tough jams. He did a tremendous job tonight.”

Pineiro pitched 7 1-3 innings and gave up two runs on six hits and two walks, with three strikeouts.

Luis Ayala and Joey Eischen each retired a batter before Rocky Biddle got the final four outs for his 17th save in 19 opportunities.

Montreal relievers have pitched 11 1-3 scoreless innings with four saves in their last four games, including five scoreless innings in Seattle.

The Expos went ahead 2-1 in the seventh when Barrett, hitting .151, hit a sacrifice fly to score pinch-runner Henry Mateo.

Edwards Guzman opened the inning with a single and Mateo ran for him. Fernando Tatis walked and Jamey Carroll ran for him. Jose Macias then sacrificed Mateo to third and Carroll to second.

“I was just trying to put the ball in the air, I was just trying to drive the ball,” Barrett said. “The infield was in and it puts the pressure on the hitter sometimes when the infield’s in like that. So I was just trying to drive the ball more than anything.”

Montreal added another run in the ninth on Mateo’s RBI single off Jeff Nelson.

Before the game, the Mariners placed closer Kazuhiro Sasaki on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to last Friday. Sasaki, who injured his ribs while carrying a suitcase up a flight of stairs in his home, is making his second trip to the DL this season. Nelson and Arthur Rhodes are expected to fill the closer role.

In the fourth, Seattle’s Mike Cameron tied the score at 1 with a 400-foot homer into Montreal’s bullpen in left. It was the Mariners’ first homer since Cameron’s go-ahead home run in the ninth inning in Philadelphia last Thursday night.

The Expos scored a run in the top of the inning on Brad Wilkerson’s single and Wil Cordero’s double.

A key to the game, Mariners manager Bob Melvin said, was in the fifth when Ichiro Suzuki and Carlos Guillen singled with one out before attempting a double steal. But Guillen was out on a close play at second.

Melvin came out and argued with second-base umpire Kerwin Danley.

“We were trying to be aggressive and steal one there,” Melvin said. “That was a big play right there. Second and third. But it just wasn’t meant to be.”

Cameron said it was a tough game for Pineiro to lose.

“When you don’t score a lot of runs, it shows up a little bit and adds alittle pressure,” he said.


The Mariners dropped their fourth consecutive game at home. … Cameron’s homer ended a stretch of four homerless games for the Mariners, their longest of the season. … Seattle’s Bret Boone had his career-high hittingstreak ended at 15 games.

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