Expos 6, Marlins 4

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MONTREAL (AP)—Livan Hernandez had more on his mind than throwing a perfect game. He just wanted to beat the Florida Marlins.

Hernandez threw six hitless innings and came within two outs of his second straight complete game, leading the Montreal Expos past the Marlins 6-4 on Sunday.

Hernandez (7-10) allowed six hits and four runs in 8 1-3 innings, but was perfect through two outs in the sixth.

“I didn’t think about that,” Hernandez said. “There were a lot of innings and trying to win the game was more important. I wasn’t thinking about a perfect game or a no-hitter, nothing like that. I go out on the mound and try to win the game. I don’t want to give the game away.”

He retired the first 17 batters he faced before walking pinch-hitter Josh Willingham, and didn’t allow a hit until Mike Lowell’s double on the first pitch of the seventh.

“Livan doesn’t feel bad when he strikes me out, so tough luck,” Lowell said.

Hernandez then gave up two more hits in that inning—including Hee Seop Choi’s RBI single—to lose his shutout. Hernandez allowed three more hits in the ninth, leaving to a standing ovation from the crowd of 9,688 after allowing Choi’s run-scoring single with one out in the ninth.

“It was a shame that it got to that point,” Expos manager Frank Robinson said. “I was hoping that he could go out there and go 1-2-3 in the ninth. I gave him the opportunity to finish the game and that’s all I can do. I’ve got to think about winning the ballgame.”

In his last start, a 2-1 loss in Pittsburgh on Tuesday, Hernandez allowed Rob Mackowiak’s two-run homer in the first.

Hernandez, who leads the majors with five complete games, struck out six and walked two Sunday. He also got a standing ovation when he doubled over right fielder Miguel Cabrera with two outs in the eighth.

Luis Ayala came in and allowed RBI singles by pinch-hitter Lenny Harris and Jeff Conine, but got the final two outs for his first save in three chances.

“Hernandez was too much for us the first six or seven innings,” Marlins manager Jack McKeon said. “We just dug ourselves too deep a hole early.”

Tony Batista hit a three-run homer off Justin Wayne (3-3) to key a four-run fourth as Montreal completed a three-game sweep. The Expos have won four straight, tying their longest streak of the season.

“It was a big three-run homer, it got us on the board with three runs,” Robinson said. “Batista just finds a way to produce some runs. He may not have a great hitting ballgame, but he gets the big hit. We added three more runs to it and that’s what we have to do because you don’t know how many runs you’re going to need until it’s over.”

Florida, which had won three of four coming into the weekend series, finished a 10-game, four-city road trip just 3-7. The Marlins, third in the NL East, fell 4 1/2 games behind division-leading Atlanta. They begin a four-game series Monday against second place Philadelphia, who Florida trails by four.

“I feel like I’ve been away for a while,” Lowell said. “I’m looking forward to getting back and we have a big series right off the bat. If we win (Monday), hopefully we get back on track.”

Making his first start of the season after being recalled from Triple-A Albuquerque on Friday, Wayne gave up six runs—four earned—on eight hits over five innings.

“When you make a good pitch and he turns on it, it’s going to get you down,” Wayne said about Batista’s homer. “It was supposed to be a fastball in. I guess they hit good pitches up here.”

Orlando Cabrera hit an RBI double in the fifth to put Montreal up 5-0 after Nick Johnson reached when first baseman Choi dropped second baseman Damion Easley’s throw. Einar Diaz hit a sacrifice fly one out later to increase the lead to 6-0.

In the third, Brad Wilkerson walked and advanced to third on Endy Chavez’s single before Batista drove Wayne’s 1-1 pitch for his 14th homer.

Johnson singled and Orlando Cabrera walked, before Ron Calloway became the sixth straight Montreal hitter to reach safely, smacking an RBI single to make it 4-0.


Marlins RHP Josh Beckett made 50 bullpen pitches before throwing 58 more pitches in a simulated game. Beckett will have another bullpen session Tuesday or Wednesday and is expected to start Friday against Montreal. … Marlins CF Juan Pierre fouled a ball off a speaker suspended from the stadium’s roof after Willingham’s walk. … Expos 2B Jose Vidro missed his second straight start because of a strained right hamstring.

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