Expos 6, Rockies 5

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MONTREAL (AP)—Brian Schneider and Javier Vazquez helped light up Olympic Stadium after the Montreal Expos endured one of their darkest moments.

After an electrical failure briefly plunged the ballpark into complete darkness, Schneider and Vazquez provided the power for Montreal in a 6-5 win over the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday night.

Schneider hit a three-run homer in the sixth inning and Vazquez had an RBI triple and a single after a delay of 1 hour, 16 minutes.

The power went out in the second inning while Vazquez (10-8) was getting ready to deliver a 3-2 pitch to Jay Payton.

“My initial reaction was obviously, ‘Get out of the way!”’ said Schneider, who was set up to catch the pitch that never came.

“Both (home plate umpire Ron Kulpa) and I bolted,” Schneider said. “Just a natural reaction. (Payton) said something. I heard something come out of his mouth—not exactly sure what it was. He got out of the way, too. I knew he wasn’t going to throw it because we weren’t to that point. Let’s just be happy that the ball wasn’t in play.”

Preston Wilson hit a leadoff homer off Vazquez in the second to put the Rockies up 1-0.

In the brief time that the players and the field disappeared into utter blackness, gasps from the crowd of 6,724 on hand for the game turned to whoops.

“I said, ‘Here we go again,’ because earlier in the season we had a power outage and I was warming up in the pen, it was against me, too,” Vazquez said. “I’ve had some bad luck this year with rain delays and the lights.”

Emergency lighting came on quickly and crew chief Bruce Froemming briefly met with the three other umpires behind the pitcher’s mound as both teams left the field.

“We sat in the clubhouse, basically,” Payton said of the delay. “There were some lights on here.”

With Colorado leading 4-3 after Todd Helton hit his 26th homer, a two-run shot in the fifth, Montreal came back for the second time in the game in the sixth.

Left fielder Jay Payton dropped Calloway’s leadoff liner for an error and Edwards Guzman singled. After fouling off a bunt attempt, Schneider hit his first homer since June 6 off Denny Stark (1-1) to put the Expos up 6-4.

“He threw me a slider on the first pitch and I was determined to get it down for sure, and I saw the bunt being called off in between pitches,” said Schneider, who bunted into a double play Tuesday. “I was hoping that they thought I was bunting and they’d throw me a fastball, and it worked.”

The Rockies drew to within one in the seventh on Ronnie Belliard’s RBI single off T.J. Tucker, one of four Montreal relievers to work the inning after Vazquez allowed Charles Johnson’s leadoff double.

Vazquez gave up five runs—three earned—and six hits in six-plus innings, becoming the second Montreal pitcher to reach double digits in wins after Livan Hernandez.

“Javy pitched well, especially after coming off that delay,” Schneider said. “It’s not very easy to do that. He held them down and gave us a chance to win.”

Joey Eischen, Tucker, Eric Knott and Hector Almonte followed.

Luis Ayala pitched the ninth for his third save, his first since June 10.

The Expos, who improved to 28-17 in Montreal this season, won for just the third time in nine games, avoiding falling below .500 for the first time this season for the third time in five days.

Colorado dropped its NL-worst road record to 20-43.

“When you don’t execute at the major league level, you don’t win close games,” Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said.

Wilson hit his 30th homer and drove in his 114th run, and Larry Walker doubled off the wall in left center on Vazquez’s first two pitches of the second before the power went out.

When the game resumed at 8:47 p.m., Payton singled on Vazquez’s first pitch following the lengthy delay, advancing Walker to third.

One out later, Johnson and Stark drew back-to-back walks, forcing in the Rockies’ second run.

Vazquez hit a leadoff single in the third and scored on Jose Vidro’s RBI double to draw Montreal to within 2-1.

Orlando Cabrera singled to begin the fourth and scored on Ron Calloway’s tying double. Two outs later, Vazquez hit a drive over Wilson for a one-hop triple off the center-field wall putting the Expos up 3-2.

Stark allowed eight hits and six runs—five earned—in six innings.

Notes

During the delay the Expos announced that ticket stubs to the game could be exchanged for any other August home game. … Johnson started in place of C Bobby Estalella, who was a late scratch because of a sore right elbow. …Vidro’s RBI was his first since July 18.

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