Expos 6, Diamondbacks 1

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PHOENIX (AP)—Livan Hernandez likes to finish what he starts.

The Montreal right-hander pitched a six-hitter for his second complete game in 10 days, helping the Expos beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 6-1 on Sunday and complete their first series sweep of the season.

“I try to stay long in the game,” said Hernandez, 3-0 in his last six starts. “I work hard every five days, so I don’t want to pitch only five innings. So I try to stay in the game longer. My reputation is I can throw a lot of pitches.”

Hernandez (3-2) threw 124, including 83 strikes. He walked two and struck out seven for his 33rd complete game as the Expos tied a season high with their third win in a row.

“We lost a five-run lead for him in Milwaukee,” catcher Brian Schneider said, referring to Hernandez’s last start on Tuesday. “He should be 2-0 on this road trip, and I’m glad we got him the win.”

Schneider hit a go-ahead three-run homer in the fourth inning off Steve Sparks to give the Expos a 3-1 lead.

Sparks (2-3) took the loss, Arizona’s season-high fifth straight at home, matching its worst overall skid this year. Sparks allowed four runs on six hits and one walk in six innings, striking out two.

“We continue to try to put guys in situations where we think they can do something to help us win a ballgame and, more often than not, it hasn’t worked out,” Arizona manager Bob Brenly said.

Jamey Carroll, a defensive replacement for Andy Fox at second base in the seventh, made it 4-1 with a run-scoring single.

Tony Batista and Juan Rivera added RBI singles in the eighth against reliever Mike Koplove, whose fielding error allowed Orlando Cabrera to start the inning by reaching first.

Arizona’s only run off Hernandez, who improved to 4-2 in seven starts in Phoenix, came on a sacrifice fly by Chad Tracy.

“He was outstanding,” manager Frank Robinson said. “He knows how to pitch, mixes his pitches, mixes in the speeds, keeps the hitters off-balance and throws strikes most of the time.”

Hernandez had to work out of a no-out, bases-loaded jam in the sixth after a single by Tracy, a walk to Matt Kata and a single by Luis Gonzalez. Terrmel Sledge’s throw from right field held Tracy at third.

Arizona cleanup hitter Steve Finley, who doubled two innings before, popped up to catcher Schneider near the Diamondbacks dugout, and Carlos Baerga grounded into a 6-3 double play to kill the threat.

The inning was eerily similar to the eighth inning Saturday night, when Arizona loaded the bases with one out and Shea Hillenbrand grounded into a double play off reliever Luis Ayala.

Hernandez retired six of seven batters before Alex Cintron led off the third with a triple into the gap. An out later, Tracy sliced a sacrifice fly to left field to give the Diamondbacks a short-lived 1-0 lead.

Sparks got two outs before Sledge walked, Matt Cepicky singled and Schneider lofted a fastball 394 feet into the swimming pool in right-center field, where a fan jumped in for the souvenir.

“I’ve always wanted to hit it in that pool,” Schneider said.

It was the 29th splashdown homer in the seven-year-old ballpark, and the first since San Francisco’s Jose Cruz Jr. hit one on July 13.

“I didn’t want to throw a fastball there with a one-run game and Hernandez pitching, but I would say the first two pitches to him I had a mental lapse,”Sparks said.


Hernandez’s first complete game this season came in a 3-1 victory on May 6, against Colorado. … Schneider also rallied the Expos to a tie with a two-run homer Friday night. He has 102 RBIs in the past two-plus seasons. … The Expos have won three of their last four series, but had no sweeps. They started 0-7-1 in eight series. … The Diamondbacks completed a 10-gamehomestand at 2-8, and now have 13 consecutive road games.

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