Twins 6, Expos 4

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MONTREAL (AP)—In a pinch, Matthew LeCroy transforms himself into a slugger.

LeCroy hit his third pinch-hit homer in three at-bats this season, and the Minnesota Twins rallied to beat the Montreal Expos 6-4 on Thursday night for a three-game sweep.

“We call LeCroy, ‘Matty Ramirez’—that’s how he’s swinging,” said Torii Hunter, whose RBI double in the eighth inning put Minnesota ahead to stay.

“Hunter’s just being nice to me,” LeCroy said. “It was a good win for us.”

Jose Vidro homered and singled for Montreal—which lost its sixth in a row—to reach 1,000 career hits.

“If we could have come up with the win, it would have felt a lot better,” Vidro said.

With the Twins trailing 3-1 in the seventh, LeCroy came to the plate with two outs and a runner on. He tied it with a two-run shot off Livan Hernandez (4-6), giving him eight RBIs as a pinch-hitter this year.

“That’s what they want me to do in that situation, try to get a ball I can drive,” LeCroy said. “Luckily, he made a mistake.”

Lew Ford hit a one-out single in the eighth to extend his career-high hitting streak to 10 games. Hernandez hit Corey Koskie with a pitch, and Hunter lined a double to right-center to score Ford with the go-ahead run.

Jacque Jones’ RBI grounder off left-hander Chad Bentz added a crucial run to increase the Twins’ lead to 5-3. Cristian Guzman had an RBI single in the ninth.

Aaron Fultz (3-2) pitched a perfect seventh for the win. Grant Balfour allowed three straight hits, including Tony Batista’s RBI single, after getting the first out of the eighth.

Joe Nathan got five outs for his 18th save in 19 opportunities.

The AL Central-leading Twins, who have won eight of 10, completed their first three-game road sweep in interleague play. Minnesota improved to 7-2 against NL opponents this season.

“They came back and I think that’s why they’re one of the best teams in the Central, because they’re young but they know how to play,” Vidro said. “They keep chipping away, and chipping away, and all of a sudden it’s a tie game. And they came up with two big runs late in the game and it cost us the ballgame.”

Matt Guerrier started in his major league debut, allowing six hits and three runs—two earned—in four innings.

“I was glad to get my foot in the door and get it out of the way,” Guerrier said. “I kept it close for four innings. I thought I’d be more nervous, but once I walked the first batter, you’ve got to get over it quick.”

A promotion featuring discounted tickets and hot dogs helped draw a crowd of 10,044. It was just the third time the Expos had a crowd of more than 10,000 in 18 games at Olympic Stadium this season.

After Montreal scored an unearned run in the first, Hernandez made it 2-0 with a run-scoring single in the second for his first RBI of the season.

Vidro homered for the second time in three games—after failing to connect since May 8—to reach 999 career hits and put Montreal up 3-0 in the third.

In his next at-bat leading off the fifth, Vidro hit a grounder off left-hander Terry Mulholland’s glove and easily beat shortstop Guzman’s throw to first for his milestone hit.

Doug Mientkiewicz hit his third homer in the sixth to draw the Twins to 3-1.

“We had them where we wanted them,” Expos manager Frank Robinson said. “We scored three runs in the first three innings and then we had opportunities in the fourth and the fifth to add to it. Instead of being up 3-0 going into the sixth, it should have been 5-0 or 6-0 but we just weren’t able to get the key hits in those two innings.”

Hernandez gave up five runs and eight hits in 7 1-3 innings. He struck outeight.

Notes

The Twins’ only other road sweep in interleague play was a two-game series in Milwaukee from June 11-12, 1999. … Vidro is the seventh player to get his first 1,000 hits with Montreal, and the first since Vladimir Guerrero reached the milestone on July 20, 2002, at Florida. … Hernandez has fourcareer homers and 46 RBIs.

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