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Expos win five-hitter

5/6/2004

MONTREAL (AP) -- Livan Hernandez made the most of a second chance
to go the distance.

Hernandez pitched a five-hitter for Montreal's first complete
game of the season, escaping a late jam to give the Expos a 3-1
victory over the Colorado Rockies on Thursday night.

Hernandez breezed through the first eight innings. In the ninth,
he gave up a two-out single to Todd Helton and a double to Vinny
Castilla.

At that point, Expos manager Frank Robinson went to the mound
and Hernandez began to hand over the ball.

"Right when he started to give him the ball I was saying, 'No!
No! No! No! No!" catcher Brian Schneider said. "I watched Frank
the entire way and he didn't motion to the bullpen. I wanted Livan
to stay in that game and finish it."

Robinson, who stuck out his right arm to stop Hernandez rather
than taking the ball, felt the same way.

"If I looked him in the eye and didn't feel like he was still
in control of things and didn't want to be in there, I would have
taken him out," Robinson said. "I trust Livan. There's no doubt
he didn't want to come out of the game. It was just the routine and
I kind of fouled him up a little bit."

Hernandez showed his appreciation for Robinson's vote of
confidence by striking out Jeromy Burnitz, who was caught looking
at a 3-2 pitch to end it.

"He gave me a chance to go out in the ninth inning," Hernandez
said. "I never give the ball to anybody and he gave me a chance to
complete the game."

Juan Rivera hit a two-run double as Montreal took two of three
to win its first series of the season.

"Winning our first series was a big step we had to take, and
now we can just continue that," Robinson said.

Hernandez (2-2), who led the National League with eight complete
games last season, allowed Luis Gonzalez's leadoff single in the
first and then got 15 straight outs.

Hernandez walked one and struck out seven in his 32nd career
complete game.

"He had command of all three pitches," Rockies manager Clint
Hurdle said. "That's the best I've seen him. He's a cool
customer."

Scott Elarton (0-5) allowed six hits in five innings, including
Rivera's two-run double in the second. Elarton tied Montreal's Tomo
Ohka and Luis Ayala for the league lead in losses.

"I've got to tip my hat to Livan," Elarton said. "He was
excellent, just painting with everything. He's shown that he can be
that kind of pitcher. When I gave up the two runs I didn't think
that was going to beat us, but he made it stick."

Brad Wilkerson doubled to lead off the Montreal second and Tony
Batista walked. Both runners advanced on Terrmel Sledge's sacrifice
before scoring on Rivera's double to center.

Sledge added an RBI single in the eighth.

The Expos, who were shut out for the seventh time one night
earlier, have scored a major league-low 68 runs. Montreal has won
three of four for the first time after getting off to a 5-20 start.

Gonzalez lined a single to right to begin the game and Denny
Hocking grounded to short, beating out the throw to first to avoid
a double play.

Hernandez was perfect in each of the next four innings before
Brad Hawpe tripled off the wall, just above center fielder Endy
Chavez's leaping attempt.

Hawpe scored the Rockies' only run on Todd Greene's RBI
grounder.

Game notes
Rockies SS Royce Clayton didn't start. He has one hit -- a
two-run homer in Tuesday's 10-4 loss -- in his last 14 at-bats since
ending a 12-game hitting streak. ... The Expos have scored three
runs or less in 22 of their 29 games. Montreal is 6-16 in those
games.