Marlins 4, Expos 1

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MONTREAL (AP)—The Montreal Expos have had such little fan support for so long that nobody seems surprised so few people are coming out to Olympic Stadium to say goodbye.

Josh Beckett pitched seven strong innings and Miguel Cabrera hit his 31st homer, leading the Florida Marlins to a 4-1 win Monday night. Only 3,923 fans were on hand for the opener of what is likely the Expos’ final series in Montreal.

“I don’t think anybody pays attention,” Marlins manager Jack McKeon said. “It’s been going on for three or four years. You’d like to see more. I don’t think it bothers the players, though, because they’re used to that.”

The team is expected to be relocated, likely to Washington, D.C., for the 2005 season.

“I think that’s in the back of a lot of fans’ minds, whether they want to come support the team or not,” Expos starter John Patterson said. “We respect the ones that want to come out and watch us play, but I don’t think we were expecting more than that.”

Beckett (8-9), last year’s World Series MVP, scattered four hits for his first win in four starts. Florida, which was eliminated from playoff contention one day earlier, ended a season-high six-game losing streak.

“It feels good to win one, that’s the big thing,” McKeon said. “I didn’t think it was ever going to happen.”

Beckett had eight strikeouts, including six through the first three innings while holding Montreal to one hit. He allowed two walks.

“It’s good to get any win right now,” said Beckett, who will leave the team Tuesday to go home to Texas for his grandmother’s funeral.

Guillermo Mota pitched the eighth, and Armando Benitez got three straight outs for his 45th save in 49 opportunities.

Cabrera hit a solo shot off Patterson (4-6) in the fourth. Florida added two more runs later in the inning on Lenny Harris’ sacrifice fly and Luis Castillo’s RBI single.

Patterson was charged with an error after his pickoff throw to first following Castillo’s single sailed about five rows into the stands behind the Expos dugout.

The Expos scored in the bottom half to draw to 3-1 on Juan Rivera’s RBI grounder.

Paul Lo Duca hit an RBI double in the fifth to restore the Marlins’ three-run lead.

Patterson allowed nine hits and four runs in six innings.

“The first three innings he was getting ahead of hitters and finishing them off, a nice clean slate, and then all of a sudden he started missing and picking and got himself in trouble,” Expos manager Frank Robinson said. “They scored off of him and that was the ballgame.”


There was a significant increase in media coverage, including several national baseball writers. … Beckett was soundly booed after he backpedaled away from 1B Brad Wilkerson to avoid being tagged following his sacrifice bunt in the third. Wilkerson looked bewildered as he walked haltingly toward Beckett while keeping an eye on Alex Gonzalez at second base. Beckett, who had almost returned to the plate, actually leaned toward Wilkerson to facilitate the tag. … Patterson, who made his 18th start, has allowed 17 homers in 94 innings.

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