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Expos end five-game losing streak

7/25/2002

NEW YORK (AP) -- It took two powerful arms to stop the surging
New York Mets -- one on the mound, another in right field.

Vladimir Guerrero threw out the potential tying run at the plate
in the seventh inning and Javier Vazquez silenced the Mets as the
Montreal Expos ended a five-game losing streak Wednesday night with
a 2-1 victory.

"It's a good feeling. It was a nice win,'' Montreal manager
Frank Robinson said. "It will make the food taste better, the
flight will be better and I'll be able to sleep better tonight. We
needed a win real bad to stop the bleeding. You can't turn a losing
streak around until you win a game.''

Rookie Brad Wilkerson hit a two-run homer in the fifth inning.
Vazquez pitched five-hit ball into the seventh, also getting
defensive help from 41-year-old first baseman Andres Galarraga.

The Mets signaled they're still determined to make a strong push
for the playoffs by signing left-hander Al Leiter to a contract
extension earlier in the day. New York lost for just the third time
in 11 games, falling five games behind NL wild card leader San
Francisco.

"It's important for us to keep winning series,'' Mets second
baseman Roberto Alomar said. "This homestand is going to be big
for us.''

Playing without All-Star second baseman Jose Vidro and slumping
slugger Cliff Floyd, the fading Expos needed a win to revive their
own wild card hopes.

They got it, and avoided dropping three games under .500 for the
first time all season.

With Montreal leading 2-0 and runners at second and third in the
seventh, Mets pinch-hitter John Valentin lined an RBI single to
right off reliever Joey Eischen.

Guerrero, with one of the best arms in baseball, charged and
came up firing. He threw a low strike to catcher Michael Barrett at
the plate and nailed a sliding Alomar to end the inning and keep
the Expos ahead.

"He has a tremendous arm, so he just cuts down distance,''
Robinson said. "It's a nice comfort zone that no matter how deep
the ball is, he still has a chance.''

Scott Stewart struck out Rey Ordonez with the bases loaded to
end the eighth, and finished for his 13th save.

The Mets stranded 10 runners.

Guerrero came out of Tuesday's game with a bruised left knee
after crashing into the wall to rob Jeromy Burnitz of extra bases.
He sat at his locker after Wednesday night's game with a big bag of
ice on each knee, but did not speak with reporters.

Both starters cruised through the first four innings. Jose
Macias reached on an infield single in the fifth, and Wilkerson
drove a hanging 2-2 curveball from Shawn Estes (3-8) over the
right-center wall with two outs for a 2-0 lead.

Wilkerson leads all NL rookies with 12 home runs.

"He hasn't played a lot against left-handed pitching up here,''
Robinson said. "I'm going to give him the chance -- he's earned it
-- so it's good to see him have some success.''

Vazquez (8-6) allowed only one hit through four innings, then
pitched out of trouble in the fifth and sixth after putting the
first two batters on.

With runners at second and third in the fifth, Alomar hit a
screaming liner. But Galarraga made a tumbling stab to end the
inning.

Alomar flipped his bat high in the air toward the Mets dugout in
frustration, while Vazquez went over to thank Galarraga before
coming off the field.

"That saved the game right there,'' Vazquez said.

The right-hander retired Mo Vaughn on a soft liner and struck
out Edgardo Alfonzo and Burnitz to end the sixth. Burnitz, a major
disappointment all season, was booed loudly by the crowd of 28,526.

Vazquez gave up one run in 6 2/3 innings to win for the third
time in four starts. He worked around four walks.

"We had them on the ropes in several key situations and weren't
able to punch it through,'' Mets catcher Mike Piazza said. "That's
frustrating.''

Estes is winless in seven starts since an 8-0 victory over the
Yankees on June 15. He gave up seven hits in seven innings, struck
out five and did not walk a batter.

Game notes
Mets reliever Mark Guthrie pitched a perfect ninth, giving
him 23 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings -- the longest streak in
the NL this season. He has not allowed a run in 29 outings since
May 25. ... Estes has given up just three runs in 13 innings
against Montreal in his last two starts. ... Vidro missed his third
straight game because of a stiff back. ... Floyd, acquired from
Florida on July 11, is batting only .200 with two RBI in 11 games
for the Expos. ... Piazza threw out Guerrero trying to steal in the
eighth, the fourth runner he's nailed in five tries this series.
... Leiter agreed to an $18 million, two-year contract extension.
He could have become a free agent after the season. ... Guerrero
has 12 assists this season.