Expos 8, Padres 4

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SAN DIEGO (AP)—Manager Frank Robinson recently promoted Brad Wilkerson to the leadoff spot to give the Montreal Expos a spark.

The move finally paid off after a few games.

Wilkerson hit a two-run homer and drove in three runs to lead the Expos to an 8-4 win over the San Diego Padres on Sunday, snapping a four-game losing streak.

Wilkerson went 3-for-4 with a walk and scored twice as Montreal completed a 2-4 road trip. Wilkerson moved into the top spot in the lineup three games ago in Los Angeles.

“We’ve been struggling,” Wilkerson said. “It feels good because we have a big series coming up, probably our biggest of the year.”

The Expos moved to within four games of Philadelphia in the race for the NL wild card. The clubs open a four-game series Monday night in Montreal.

The eight runs scored by the Expos on Sunday were more than they had during the four-game losing streak (5). It was their highest run total since an 8-4 win on Aug. 1 against Milwaukee.

Montreal was coming off a 1-0 loss in 10 innings to San Diego on Saturday night.

“Hard to believe,” said Robinson. “It’s good to get some offense and get some big hits.”

Wilkerson reached base four times Sunday after getting on base three times on Saturday night on two walks sandwiched around a single.

“He’s had two good games (in the leadoff spot),” Robinson said, “so he’ll be out there tomorrow.”

Montreal received help on a mental error by Padres catcher Miguel Ojeda. The rookie lost track of the outs in the fifth inning and rolled the ball back to the mound after Vladimir Guerrero struck out for the second out of the inning. The miscue allowed a runner to advance to third, who eventually scored.

“All I can say, I’m human,” Ojeda said. “I thought that was the third out. No excuses. It could happen to anyone, but I never thought it was going to happen to me.”

Rookie Eric Knott (1-2) won for the first time in his major league career in relief of starter T.J. Tucker. Knott won despite committing a two-base throwing error in the fifth that allowed two runs to score.

The left-hander allowed two runs—one unearned—on two hits over 1 2-3 innings.

Tucker, just promoted to the No. 5 spot in the Expos’ rotation, gave up two runs—one earned—on four hits in 4 1-3 innings. Robinson said he removed Tucker because he “ran out of gas.”

Wilkerson hit his first homer batting leadoff when he connected for a two-run drive off Kevin Jarvis (4-6) in the fifth inning as the Expos took a 4-0 lead. Tucker led off with a double right before Wilkerson’s blast.

“I don’t change my approach,” Wilkerson said about hitting leadoff. “Maybe it takes away from my power numbers, but I feel confident batting leadoff.”

Jose Vidro also hit a two-run home run against Joe Roa to push Montreal’s lead to 6-3 in the seventh.

Jarvis allowed up four runs—three earned—on seven hits in five innings.

After Wilkerson’s 16th homer in the fifth, the Expos took advantage of Ojeda’s error for a run.

Jamey Carroll reached on an infield single. After Jarvis struck out Guerrero for the second out, Ojeda rolled the ball back and Carroll moved to third. Carroll scored on Orlando Cabrera’s infield single.

“It’s something you don’t expect,” Carroll said. I saw (Ojeda) step toward the dugout, so I started going back to the base. But when he started flipping the ball, I realized he didn’t know how many outs there were, so I took off.”

The Padres chased Tucker in the fifth on consecutive doubles by Ojeda and Lou Merloni. Knott came in and struck out pinch-hitter Rondell White and walked Sean Burroughs.

Mark Kotsay followed with a high bouncer in the front of the mound that Knott fielded and threw wildly up the first-base line. By the time Guerrero picked up the ball in the Expos’ right-field bullpen, Merloni and Burroughs scored to cut the lead to 4-3.

Merloni also had an RBI single.

Wil Cordero’s sacrifice fly in the second put Montreal ahead 1-0.

Pinch-hitter Endy Chavez and Wilkerson added run-scoring singles in theeighth off Luther Hackman.


Guerrero went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts and stranded three runners in scoring position. Guerrero struck out six times in the three-game series. …San Diego ended its schedule against the NL East with a 10-22 record.

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