ATLANTA (AP)—The Braves had just one day back atop the NL East, their first share of the lead since April 8.
“It’s not a cakewalk going down the stretch,” Atlanta’s J.D. Drew said. “It’s going to be what I’ve said all along, a battle. Hopefully, this pushes us to another level.”
A night after the Expos were shut out for the 14th time this season, Montreal rebounded to beat Atlanta for only the third time in 11 games this year. Overall, the Expos had lost 12 of their previous 20 games.
“Any win around here right now is a positive thing,” Montreal starter John Patterson said.
Nick Johnson added two hits, including an RBI double in the eighth off Chris Reitsma, and the Expos’ bullpen pitched 4 1-3 shutout innings. Their relievers are 07-16, the lowest win total in the National League.
“It’s the little things, and it was a big game,” Montreal manager Frank Robinson. “The pitching held up.”
Atlanta lost for only the fourth time in 17 games and fell one game behind the Phillies. Drew and Charles Thomas each had two hits, with Drew extending his hitting streak to a career-best 13 games.
“You could play the Yankees or them, they’re equally tough to beat,” Braves manager Bobby Cox. “They had good pitching. They shut us down.”
Paul Byrd (2-2) allowed three runs and five hits in six innings. Patterson, who had been sidelined since April 27 with a strained right groin, gave up one run, two hits and four walks in 4 2-3 innings.
“He gave us all he had,” Robinson said of Patterson. “I probably gave him one or two more batters than I should have. I wanted him to be eligible for the win, but I didn’t want to jeopardize the game.”
Drew hit an RBI single in the fifth on the first pitch from Vargas, who took over for Patterson and later got out of a bases-loaded jam when Johnny Estrada grounded out.
Patterson, who was on a pitch count of 75-80, left after throwing 87.
“I never got tired, and my arm felt great,” he said. “I definitely could have gone one more hitter.”
Vidro’s solo shot in the sixth made it 3-1, and Horgan got out of trouble in the bottom half when the speedy Rafael Furcal grounded into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded.
“That was really a big situation for our team,” Horgan said. “To get a double play, I wasn’t expecting that. He’s a fast runner.
“These are the games you want to be in, the ones you want to be successful in.”
Furcal broke three bats, including two on foul balls. … Vidro, a switch-hitter, hit his home run left-handed. The Expos don’t have a right-handed homer since June 30, a span of 13 games. … Atlanta C Johnny Estrada played a night after leaving early when he was hit in the hand by a pitch.