Expos 4, Mets 1

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NEW YORK (AP)—Tony Batista and the rest of the Expos were thrilled with the victory. They were even happier to be heading back to Montreal.

Batista hit a tiebreaking two-run homer off John Franco in the eighth inning, leading the Expos to a 4-1 victory over the New York Mets on Thursday.

“To come back against them is exciting, but we’re just looking forward to going home,” Batista said.

Brad Wilkerson added a disputed homer for the Expos, who split the two-game series and finally return to Montreal after going 10-15 on a six-city trip that lasted 28 days.

“Thank God it’s over,” Wilkerson said. “We did a pretty good job, but I’m happy it’s over because it takes a lot out of you.”

Mets prized prospect David Wright got his first major league hit—a double — in his second game and scored New York’s only run. He also added a single in the ninth, a day after making his big league debut.

“The aura about it is still there, but I was enjoying the day a lot more yesterday,” Wright said. “I made a few adjustments to my swing to be a little more successful. Tonight, I’ll go to sleep pretty easy.”

The same probably can’t be said of the rest of his teammates. The Mets, who begin a three-game series at home against Atlanta on Friday, fell a game under .500 at 47-48.

“With Atlanta coming in, you’ve got to have some momentum,” manager Art Howe said.

With the game tied at 1 in the eighth, Franco (2-7) got two quick outs before giving up a single to Jose Vidro. Batista then turned on a 3-1 pitch and lined it into the picnic area in left field to give the Expos a 3-1 lead.

“It was a pretty good battle right there,” Batista said. “I think he was trying to go away, away, away and on a 3-1 count came inside and that was it.”

Franco is 0-2 on the homestand, and has given up five earned runs in 2 2-3 innings.

“I haven’t been doing my job,” Franco said. “I’m letting the team down.”

Pinch-hitter Ron Calloway grounded into a run-scoring fielder’s choice in the ninth to make it 4-1.

“Those are the kinds of games we can win,” Expos manager Frank Robinson said. “We just have to get some more of those.”

Luis Ayala (2-6) pitched a perfect seventh in relief of starter Zach Day for the win. Joe Horgan threw a scoreless eighth, and Chad Cordero pitched the ninth for his eighth save in nine chances, striking out Shane Spencer as the tying run to end it.

“Chad seems to like to toy around with the hitters a little bit,” Robinson said. “You can make me sweat a little, as long as you don’t break my heart.”

Day, activated from the disabled list before the game, locked up in a duel with Tom Glavine on a hot and humid day at Shea Stadium.

The Expos tied it at 1 in the sixth on Wilkerson’s home run that was first ruled a double and an error.

With one out, Wilkerson lifted a ball to left-center that hit off the screen in front of the picnic area above the wall. Left fielder Cliff Floyd and center fielder Mike Cameron hesitated to go after the ball, apparently thinking it was a homer. Second-base umpire Tim Tschida ruled it was not, and Wilkerson ended up at third base.

Robinson argued and the umpires conferred before reversing it, giving Wilkerson his team-leading 18th homer.

“I knew I hit it good, but I didn’t see where it hit,” Wilkerson said. “I saw the replay, and I’d rather have a tying home run than a leadoff double.”

The Mets took a 1-0 lead in the fifth on Jose Reyes’ groundout.

Wright, 2-for-4, got his first big league hit—a double past third baseman Batista—with one out. The crowd stood and cheered as Wright cruised into second.

Day then intentionally walked Jason Phillips to get to Glavine, who also walked to load the bases. Reyes then hit a slow roller to shortstop, and Orlando Cabrera’s only play was to first as Wright scored.

“I got behind in the counts that whole inning and I put myself in a hole,” Day said. “Good thing we pulled it out because with Glavine on the mound we knew runs would be tough to come by.”

Day, who allowed eight runs in 1 1-3 innings in his last outing July 5, gave up one run and six hits in six innings.

Glavine allowed one run and five hits in seven innings and remained winless in seven starts.

“At this point in the year, it’s a little bothersome,” Glavine said. “Obviously, it’s frustrating for everybody when you have scoring opportunities and you don’t take advantage.”


Ayala extended his scoreless streak to 18 1-3 innings. … Wright also made his first error at third base, booting Vidro’s slow grounder in the first. … Left-hander Scott Downs was optioned to Triple-A Edmonton to make room for Day on Montreal’s roster. … A day after his fielding error led to the winning run, Montreal first baseman Nick Johnson got the day off. Wilkerson started in his place.

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