Expos 4, Braves 3, 12 innings

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MONTREAL (AP)—After going hitless in his previous 23 at-bats, Tony Batista came through at the perfect time for the Montreal Expos.

Batista hit a one-out RBI double in the 12th inning and the Expos ended a three-game losing streak with a 4-3 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Sunday.

“I’ve been struggling a little bit and missing opportunities to drive in runs,” Batista said. “But today, I got the base hit and I’m happy for that.”

Endy Chavez drew a one-out walk off Juan Cruz (4-2) in the 12th. Batista, hitless in his first five at-bats, followed with a drive high off the wall in left-center as Chavez trotted home with the winning run while his teammates spilled out of the dugout to greet him.

Brad Wilkerson homered and Brian Schneider tied a career high with four hits for the Expos.

“It means a lot,” Wilkerson said of Batista’s winning hit. “He’s been struggling a little bit, but to come through in that situation, it can’t be anything but a positive for him. And hopefully he can continue it on the road and get his swing back.”

T.J. Tucker (4-2) allowed one hit and struck out one in the 12th to pick up the win.

J.D. Drew hit his career-high 30th homer for Atlanta, which had its five-game winning streak end. The Braves have lost just twice in their last 13 games, and are 35-13 since the All-Star break.

Trailing 3-2 after Atlanta scored twice in the eighth, Montreal tied it in the bottom half with a run on third baseman Chipper Jones’ throwing error.

Juan Rivera hit a one-out single off Chris Reitsma and, one out later, advanced to second on Alex Gonzalez’s single. Schneider hit a slow roller to third and was credited with an infield single when Jones’ high throw sailed off first baseman Julio Franco’s glove, allowing Rivera to score the tying run.

Expos closer Chad Cordero entered with runners at first and second and two outs in the ninth and got Andruw Jones swinging at a 3-2 pitch to end the threat. Cordero struck out five and walked two in 2 1-3 innings.

“Cordero did an outstanding job and Tucker did a very good job for us, and that was about it for the relief pitchers,” Expos manager Frank Robinson said. “We just were walking too many people.”

Montreal’s six pitchers combined for a season-high 11 walks.

Wilkerson hit his 27th homer off John Thomson in the first—his major league-leading eighth to leadoff a game this season.

“I was talking with Andruw that (Saturday) the Expos were all taking strike one,” Thomson said. “Today, Wilkerson swung at the first pitch and I think they all did today.”

Expos starter Livan Hernandez added a run-scoring RBI single in the second to make it 2-0.

Drew, who walked four times in six plate appearances, reached 30 homers for the first time in his career with a leadoff shot over the left-field wall in the sixth to extend his hitting streak to 14 games.

“He’s got a good eye,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said. “I know his on-base percentage is good. He’s a great third-place hitter because of that.”

Drew drew his third walk to begin the eighth against left-hander Joey Eischen. Chipper Jones singled and both runners advanced on Johnny Estrada’s sacrifice before Andruw Jones was intentionally walked to load the bases.

Pinch-hitter Eli Marrero followed by drawing a walk from Luis Ayala, tying it at 2. Charles Thomas hit a grounder to first and hustled to first to avoid a double play, beating catcher Schneider’s return throw to Wilkerson to keep the bases loaded. Ayala then hit Franco with a 1-1 pitch later to force in the go-ahead run.

Hernandez, who lost each of his four previous starts against Atlanta this season, was denied his first win over Atlanta in over four years despite allowing just three hits over seven strong innings.

The Braves came close to tying it in the seventh when pinch-runner Nick Green was thrown out on a close play at the plate.

With runners at second and third and one out, Rafael Furcal hit a sharp grounder to Wilkerson at first. Green, who broke from third on contact, used a pop-up slide but was unable to avoid Schneider’s tag as Wilkerson’s throw easily beat him to the plate.

Notes

Montreal finished 5-8 on its season-high 13-game homestand. … The Braves were held to six hits after getting 10 or more in 13 of their previous 14 games. Atlanta had nine hits in Friday’s 7-1 win. … Hernandez is 0-9 in his last 11 starts against the Braves since Aug. 18, 2000.

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