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Livan retires first 17 batters en rout to win

MONTREAL (AP) -- Livan Hernandez had more on his mind than throwing a perfect game. He just wanted to beat the Florida Marlins.

Hernandez threw six hitless innings and came within two outs of his second straight complete game, leading the Montreal Expos past the Marlins 6-4 on Sunday.

Hernandez (7-10) allowed six hits and four runs in 8 1-3 innings, but was perfect through two outs in the sixth.

"I didn't think about that," Hernandez said. "There were a lot of innings and trying to win the game was more important. I wasn't thinking about a perfect game or a no-hitter, nothing like that. I go out on the mound and try to win the game. I don't want to give the game away."

He retired the first 17 batters he faced before walking pinch-hitter Josh Willingham, and didn't allow a hit until Mike Lowell's double on the first pitch of the seventh.

"Livan doesn't feel bad when he strikes me out, so tough luck," Lowell said.

Hernandez then gave up two more hits in that inning -- including Hee Seop Choi's RBI single -- to lose his shutout. Hernandez allowed three more hits in the ninth, leaving to a standing ovation from
the crowd of 9,688 after allowing Choi's run-scoring single with
one out in the ninth.

"It was a shame that it got to that point," Expos manager
Frank Robinson said. "I was hoping that he could go out there and
go 1-2-3 in the ninth. I gave him the opportunity to finish the
game and that's all I can do. I've got to think about winning the
ballgame."

In his last start, a 2-1 loss in Pittsburgh on Tuesday,
Hernandez allowed Rob Mackowiak's two-run homer in the first.

Hernandez, who leads the majors with five complete games, struck
out six and walked two Sunday. He also got a standing ovation when
he doubled over right fielder Miguel Cabrera with two outs in the
eighth.

Luis Ayala came in and allowed RBI singles by pinch-hitter Lenny
Harris and Jeff Conine, but got the final two outs for his first
save in three chances.

"Hernandez was too much for us the first six or seven
innings," Marlins manager Jack McKeon said. "We just dug
ourselves too deep a hole early."

Tony Batista hit a three-run homer off Justin Wayne (3-3) to key
a four-run fourth as Montreal completed a three-game sweep. The
Expos have won four straight, tying their longest streak of the
season.

"It was a big three-run homer, it got us on the board with
three runs," Robinson said. "Batista just finds a way to produce
some runs. He may not have a great hitting ballgame, but he gets
the big hit. We added three more runs to it and that's what we have
to do because you don't know how many runs you're going to need
until it's over."

Florida, which had won three of four coming into the weekend
series, finished a 10-game, four-city road trip just 3-7. The
Marlins, third in the NL East, fell 4½ games behind
division-leading Atlanta. They begin a four-game series Monday
against second place Philadelphia, who Florida trails by four.

"I feel like I've been away for a while," Lowell said. "I'm
looking forward to getting back and we have a big series right off
the bat. If we win (Monday), hopefully we get back on track."

Making his first start of the season after being recalled from
Triple-A Albuquerque on Friday, Wayne gave up six runs -- four
earned -- on eight hits over five innings.

"When you make a good pitch and he turns on it, it's going to
get you down," Wayne said about Batista's homer. "It was supposed
to be a fastball in. I guess they hit good pitches up here."

Orlando Cabrera hit an RBI double in the fifth to put Montreal
up 5-0 after Nick Johnson reached when first baseman Choi dropped
second baseman Damion Easley's throw. Einar Diaz hit a sacrifice
fly one out later to increase the lead to 6-0.

In the third, Brad Wilkerson walked and advanced to third on
Endy Chavez's single before Batista drove Wayne's 1-1 pitch for his
14th homer.

Johnson singled and Orlando Cabrera walked, before Ron Calloway
became the sixth straight Montreal hitter to reach safely, smacking
an RBI single to make it 4-0.

Game notes
Marlins RHP Josh Beckett made 50 bullpen pitches before
throwing 58 more pitches in a simulated game. Beckett will have
another bullpen session Tuesday or Wednesday and is expected to
start Friday against Montreal. ... Marlins CF Juan Pierre fouled a
ball off a speaker suspended from the stadium's roof after
Willingham's walk. ... Expos 2B Jose Vidro missed his second
straight start because of a strained right hamstring.