HOUSTON (AP)—After walking two of the first three batters he faced, Livan Hernandez received a visit from manager Frank Robinson.
The Montreal right-hander didn’t walk another batter the rest of the game.
“Frank came out and told me to calm down,” Hernandez said. “I told him the pitches were strikes and the umpire needed to give me something.”
Hernandez ended up pitching a six-hitter for his fifth complete game of the season as the Expos snapped an eight-game road losing streak with a 3-1 victory over the Houston Astros on Saturday night.
“I wanted to settle him down,” Robinson said. “I didn’t want him to get out of his game because of the calls. My job is to go out there and make him keep his focus and not change anything.”
Hernandez (12-7) said he never lost his concentration.
“I just didn’t want the umpire to continue like that,” Hernandez said of plate umpire Bruce Dreckman.
Robinson had a brief conversation with Dreckman before returning to the dugout.
Robinson’s strategy worked as Hernandez won for the sixth time in his last seven decisions, and tied Philadelphia’s Kevin Millwood and San Francisco’s Jason Schmidt for the most complete games in the NL. He threw 126 pitches, struck out nine and walked two in his second complete game in his last three games, and 28th of his career.
“That was an outstanding performance. He was in complete control,” Robinson said. “He made pitches when he had to. It was a veteran-type performance to every hitter for every pitch.”
Hernandez agreed with Robinson.
“I put the ball where I wanted to put it,” Hernandez said. “Every pitch was working. My sinker was perfect and I was moving it in and out and my slider was perfect. I felt good. I wanted to stay in the game. I felt better and better. I’ve got five complete games and I think I can throw a few more.”
Houston’s Lance Berkman was impressed with Hernandez’s control.
“He pitched a gem. The only pitch that he threw over the plate, white on white, was that 61 mph curve,” Berkman said. “We’ve hit him before, but tonight he was outstanding. I don’t think he missed a spot all night. He started balls at the knees that were at your shoe tops when they got to the plate.”
Montreal had last won on the road on July 18, when the Expos beat Philadelphia 3-1. It was just their second win in their last 14 road games.
Jared Hernandez (1-1) allowed three runs and nine hits in 4 2-3 innings in the loss. He struck out four and walked three.
Montreal took a 2-0 lead in the second after Vladimir Guerrero led off with a double and scored on Orlando Cabrera’s single. Cabrera scored when shortstop Geoff Blum committed a bases-loaded fielding error on a grounder hit by Hernandez.
Montreal left the bases loaded in the third, fourth and seventh innings and left two on in the second.
The Expos increased their lead to 3-0 in the fifth when Cabrera walked, stole second, went to third on a fly out and scored on a single by Ron Calloway.
Houston cut it to 3-1 in the sixth after Jeff Kent doubled and scored on asingle by Lance Berkman.
Houston CF Craig Biggio’s double was his 2,413th career hit. He is two away from tying Mickey Mantle for 94th on the career list. … Biggio is the active major league leader, and third all-time, in times hit by pitch with 232. … Houston has been shut out three times this season, tying Atlanta for the fewest in the NL. The Astros haven’t been shut out in 60 consecutive games. … Montreal has scored more than three runs only twice in its last 11 road games … The Expos’ bullpen has allowed at least one run in 19 of its last 21 games. … Montreal is 8-19 in its last 27 games decided by two runs or less, and is 3-13 in one-run games. … Cabrera’s two stolen bases Saturday night againstHouston gave him 41 steals in his last 42 attempts.