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Expos trying to catch Mets

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- OK, it's not exactly a pennant race, but
Montreal still has something to play for: escaping last place in
the NL East.

Tony Batista hit a go-ahead two-run single in Montreal's
five-run ninth inning, and the Expos rallied for a 12-8 victory
over the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday night.

"People say, 'What's the big deal?' " Expos manager Frank
Robinson said of the standings. "The big deal is I put on this
major league uniform and I'm going to put this effort in. They
could have called it in after the first half of the season, but
they've played some real good baseball in the second half."

Batista had three RBI to give him 100, and Juan Rivera went
2-for-4 with a homer and three RBI for the Expos, who trailed by
four in the eighth.

The Expos are 3½ games behind the Mets for fourth place in the
NL East.

"That's the immediate goal," Robinson said. "We won't be able
to pass the Phillies, so, yeah, we're trying to pass the Mets. I'm
sure the Mets' goal is not to let us catch them."

Luis Ayala (6-11) allowed one run and one hit -- Bobby Abreu's
solo homer in the ninth -- in two innings to pick up the win.

Tim Worrell (4-6) took the loss after Philadelphia's bullpen
wasted another solid outing by Eric Milton.

With the game tied at 7, Maicer Izturis led off with a liner off
the glove of second baseman Placido Polanco. Brian Schneider's
sacrifice was bobbled by Worrell and his throw to first was late
for an error.

Brad Wilkerson's sacrifice put runners on second and third, and
Jamey Carroll was intentionally walked to load the bases for
Batista.

Batista followed with a single to left, driving in two to make
it 9-7. Ryan Church added an RBI single and Sledge had a two-run
triple, making it 11-7.

Batista drove in 100 runs for the third time, and first since
2000 when he was with Toronto.

"I was looking forward for that this year," Batista said. "I
got the opportunity and the chance on this team and I did it."

Milton allowed three runs and three hits in six innings, and
Ryan Madson tossed a scoreless seventh but unraveled in the eighth.

Madson allowed the first two batters to reach, then Batista made
it 7-4 with an RBI single to left. Felix Rodriguez relieved Madson
and promptly allowed an RBI single by Rivera.

The Phillies turned to their third reliever of the inning, lefty
Rheal Cormier. He struck out pinch-hitter Church, but Sledge ripped
an opposite-field two-RBI double to left to tie it at 7.

"Our bullpen has been doing a great job. We just didn't get it
done tonight," Phillies manager Larry Bowa said. "We made a lot
of bad pitches in the eighth and ninth innings."

The Phillies knocked out emergency starter Claudio Vargas after
only three innings. Right-hander Tony Armas Jr. was a late scratch
because of tendinitis in his right shoulder.

The Phillies took a 1-0 lead in the second on an RBI double by
Jason Michaels. After the first out, Vargas intentionally walked
Mike Lieberthal to load the bases for Milton.

Milton, who came in batting .125 with no extra-base hits, ripped
a two-RBI double that one-hopped over the wall and into the
Phillies bullpen.

Jimmy Rollins followed with an RBI single to left for a 4-0
lead.

Milton allowed only a sacrifice fly in the third until Rivera
crushed his ninth homer in the sixth, a two-run shot to left that
made it 4-3. Milton has allowed an NL-worst 39 homers in 181 2-3
innings.

Polanco gave the Phillies a 6-3 lead with a two-out, two-run
single in the sixth off reliever Francis Beltran. Bell, batting
fourth for the first time this year, added a solo shot in the
seventh.

Game notes
Phillies closer Billy Wagner served the first of a two-game
suspension from major league baseball and fined an undisclosed
amount after he was ejected against the New York Mets last weekend.
... Armas, 2-4 with a 4.88 ERA, said he felt some soreness after
throwing in a recent side session. ... Phillies 1B Jim Thome was a
late scratch, still bothered by a bruised chest suffered in a
collision with catcher Todd Pratt. Ryan Howard got the start. ...
Sledge was back in the starting lineup after leaving Tuesday's game
against the Marlins at Chicago with a dislocated left pinkie. ...
Abreu had his third 100 RBI season in four years.