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Expos' offense not enough

4/24/2004

MONTREAL (AP) -- The Expos' offense woke up in their return home.
It didn't do them any good.

Bobby Abreu had four extra-base hits and five RBI, and Jim
Thome homered for a third straight game to lead the Philadelphia
Phillies over the Expos 8-6 Friday night.

Montreal, which came to Olympic Stadium with a 4-12 record, had
been the first team to score four runs or fewer in its first 16
games since the 1968 Chicago White Sox. Trailing 5-1, the Expos
tied the score with a four-run sixth, then faltered.

"It was good to see the bats come alive tonight and, hopefully,
they'll continue to hit that way, but we just couldn't overcome
that early deficit," Expos manager Frank Robinson said.

Abreu hit a three-run homer in the first, a run-scoring double
off Claudio Vargas in the second, then doubled to lead off the
seventh against Chad Bentz (0-2) and scored on David Bell's RBI
grounder for a 6-5 lead. Abreu added a run-scoring double in the
eighth.

"Abreu swung the bat great tonight," said Brad Wilkerson, who
hit an RBI double to begin the Expos' rally in the sixth. "He was
locked in all night and he did a lot of damage to us, but we had to
keep plugging away. We're showing signs of putting it all together,
and we've got to come out tomorrow and do the same thing."

Thome followed Abreu's first-inning drive with his sixth home
run, his fifth in seven games, and Philadelphia built a 4-0 lead
before Vargas retired a batter.

Abreu, who entered with just eight hits in 47 at-bats, raised
his average from .170 to .231.

"We need Bobby to get hot," Phillies manager Larry Bowa said.
"It seems like he always plays good up here. He must see the ball
pretty good."

Kevin Millwood (2-2) got his second straight win against the
Expos despite blowing the four-run lead. He allowed five runs --
three earned -- and 10 hits in six innings.

"Those guys did a great job -- they got me four in the first and
one more in the second, and then it's my job," Millwood said.
"When you've got five runs in the first two innings, you should
win that ballgame, and to allow them to come back and tie the game
up, that's not a very good job by me."

Billy Wagner pitched the ninth for his fifth save in six
chances.

Montreal, which has scored a major league-low 32 runs, had a
season-high 12 hits. The crowd of 30,112 was the smallest for a
Montreal opener since 1985, when the Expos' drew 30,105 for a 5-3
win over Chicago. Friday's game coincided with the opener of the
Montreal Canadiens' second-round NHL playoff series at Tampa Bay.

The Expos played their first six home games in Puerto Rico.

"All in all, it was a pretty good night for all the stuff that
was going on in the city of Montreal," Wilkerson said. "They did
a great job of supporting us and hopefully tomorrow we can put
together a win for them."

With the score 5-all, Bell avoided an inning-ending double play
on his seventh-inning grounder to shortstop. Run-scoring doubles by
Abreu in the eighth and Ricky Ledee in the ninth increased the lead
to 8-5. Tony Batista hit an RBI grounder in the bottom half off
Wagner.

Vargas allowed five runs and six hits in 1 2-3 innings.

"Vargas dug us a big hole early in the ballgame and we just
can't overcome those things," Robinson said. "Our pitchers can't
let that happen because it takes us almost right out of the
ballgame."

Batista hit an RBI infield single for Montreal in the first.

In the sixth, Wilkerson hit a run-scoring double and scored on a
single by rookie Termel Sledge, who had been 1-for-35.

Endy Chavez, recalled from Triple-A Edmonton one day earlier,
hit an infield single to score Sledge and Brian Schneider came home
when second baseman Placido Polanco threw the ball in the dirt and
past Thome at first for an error.

Game notes
Abreu also hit three doubles against Cincinnati on May 4,
2000. ... The Expos have never drawn less than 30,000 for an
Olympic Stadium opener since moving there from Jarry Park in 1977.
... The FieldTurf artificial surface gave the stadium a new look.
... The game was briefly delayed when a shirtless man jumped onto
the field in the fourth. The fan ran straight across the field,
well in front of each of the Phillies' three outfielders, into the
right-field corner. Security guards surrounded him there and he was
escorted from the field, yelling into the Expos' dugout as he
passed.