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Expos win final home game before long road trip

5/25/2003

MONTREAL (AP) -- The Montreal Expos gave their fans something to
remember.

Brian Schneider hit a three-run homer and Javier Vazquez pitched seven strong innings to lead Montreal to a 5-3 win over the
Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday in the Expos' last game at Olympic Stadium until June 20.

A photo day promotion crowd of 17,023 roared its approval when
Schneider hit his fifth homer with two out in the seventh off
reliever Dan Plesac to break a 2-2 tie.

"We're just making it really exciting right now for everyone,''
Schneider said. "I had an opportunity last night, and I had an
opportunity earlier in the game and I hadn't come through for the
team, and nothing feels better than to hit a home run against a
team that's right behind you in the standings.''

Both Schneider and Ron Calloway -- who drew a two-out walk before
Jose Macias' single chased Brett Myers (4-4) -- pumped their right
arms in the air after Schneider's drive cleared the wall down the
right field line.

"I made a big mistake on a 3-1 breaking ball that wasn't very
good,'' Plesac said. "It pretty much decided the game.''

Following the homer, the crowd began the "Ole! Ole! Ole! Ole!''
chant more accustomed to soccer stadiums.

"Any kind of chant is good,'' Expos manager Frank Robinson
said. "That was good. The fans are great when they come here.
They're enthusiastic, they're behind the ballclub and they root for
the ballclub. No matter what the size the crowd is, they make
noise, and the larger the crowd, the more the noise.''

The Expos, who are playing 22 home games in San Juan, Puerto Rico, this season to boost revenue, will play their next 22 games away from Montreal, including a six-game "homestand'' against Anaheim and Texas at Hiram Bithorn Stadium from June 3-8.

Vazquez (5-2) allowed two runs and five hits, including Jason Michaels' two-run homer in the second. He struck out eight and walked one.

"Right now we're playing great and we expect to keep playing this way,'' Vazquez said. "Everybody knows that we have a long road trip but we know that if we play the way we're capable of, we're going to be all right.''

Ricky Ledee and Placido Polanco led off the eighth with back-to-back doubles off reliever Scott Stewart to draw the Phillies to within 5-3.

Rocky Biddle pitched the ninth for his 14th save in 15 opportunities.

The three-game series drew 59,770, including Montreal's biggest
non-Opening Day crowd in six years when discount tickets and a hot dogs promotion drew 33,236 for Saturday's 3-2 win.

"The crowds are great,'' Robinson said. "The crowds have been
great, but they're just been larger and larger here the last few
days and that's outstanding. We appreciate that.''

Jose Vidro also homered for the Expos, who completed a 5-1
homestand to remain two games behind Atlanta in the NL East.
Montreal (32-18) has the second best record in the NL.

"They're definitely for real,'' Phillies manager Larry Bowa
said.

Vidro homered for the first time in more than a month with two
outs in the first. He had gone 99 at-bats without a homer since
April 22.

"At least my swing has been there so I had no problem with
that,'' said Vidro, who singled in the eighth to raise his average
to .339. "But they are fun once in a while.''

Michaels was a late addition to Philadelphia's lineup, starting
in place of right fielder Bobby Abreu, who was a late scratch
because of a strained lower back muscle.

With just seven at-bats since April 22 entering the game, Michaels put the Phillies up 2-1 in the second when he hit Vazquez's 1-1 pitch over the left field wall to score Mike Lieberthal, who singled with two outs.

Vidro walked to lead off the fourth, and was running to easily
advance on Vladimir Guerrero's grounder to second. After taking
third on Myers' wild pitch, Vidro scored when Cordero hit a
run-scoring chopper high off the plate that left Myers no choice
but to throw to first.

Myers, who was 4-1 in his previous six starts, allowed three hits
and four runs in 6 2/3 innings.

Game notes
More than 10,000 walk-up tickets were sold for the game.
... Abreu missed his first start of the season. SS Jimmy Rollins
also did not start and grounded out to end the game as a pinch
hitter. ... Phillies 3B David Bell went 0-for-4, ending an 11-game
hitting streak. ... Calloway caught Michaels' towering fly to left
after it struck the stadium's roof for the second out of the fifth.
... The Expos have drawn a total of 204,087 in Montreal, averaging
11,338 through 18 games.