SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) -- Latin American beisbol suits the
Montreal Expos just fine.
For the New York Mets, it doesn't matter where they play these days.
Livan Hernandez dominated early and Michael Barrett homered as the Expos remained unbeaten in their new part-time home, defeating the Mets 5-4 on a sloppy Saturday night.
"We made too many mistakes, gave too many opportunities to the other team,'' Montreal manager Frank Robinson said. "We can't do that every night''
No matter, the Expos are getting hot, and it's not just the tropical weather. The NL East leaders, despite two errors on the springy artificial turf of Hiram Bithorn Stadium, stretched their winning streak to three, including the first two of their 22 games in San Juan.
After drawing 17,906 for a 10-0 win in Friday's opener, the
Expos got a sellout of 18,264 Saturday, again bigger than all but
eight crowds last season at Montreal's Olympic Stadium.
If the Expos make the playoffs, baseball says their postseason
games would be played in Montreal. The Mets have no such worries
New York, loser of four straight and five of six, also made two
errors and looked awful, with two throws going between fielders.
"We're kind of our own worst enemy right now, shooting
ourselves in the foot defensively,'' manager Art Howe said.
Slow Mo Vaughn was nearly thrown out at first base on a ball
lined into right field, just beating Vladimir Guerrero's throw.
"That would have been embarrassing,'' Vaughn said. "I said,
`O, Lord, on turf and with his strong arm, I got to keep running."
Timo Perez struck out while getting hit with a pitch on the left
wrist and Cliff Floyd was forced from the game with a strained
right Achilles tendon. The Mets said both are day to day.
On the plus side for the Mets, local hero Roberto Alomar had two
hits and scored his 1,417th run, passing Roberto Clemente for the
most among Puerto Rican-born players. Alomar received a big ovation
when the announcement was made.
"To pass Roberto Clemente in Puerto Rico, it was real special, to be in front of my people, in my country, with my family,'' Alomar said. "I think Roberto Clemente's always going to be at the top, even though I passed him. I always believe he's here with me -- he's an angel. It's a real special night and I know he's watching us.''
Hernandez (1-0), facing the Mets for the second time in seven
days, allowed two runs -- one earned -- and eight hits in six
innings. New York helped by leaving 13 on base.
"I made some pitches to get out of jams,'' Hernandez said.
Rocky Biddle got three outs for his third save, allowing a
flyout to deep center by Mike Piazza in the ninth. Piazza went
0-for-5, stretching his hitless streak to 15 at-bats, and stranded
"It's frustrating,'' Piazza said. "I have no excuses. I'm just
swinging very poorly.''
Jae Seo (0-1), who pitched against Hernandez on Sunday in New
York, lost his first major league decision, giving up five runs -- three earned -- and nine hits in 5 2/3 innings.
Montreal took a 2-0 lead in the second, helped when Seo fielded
a comebacker and threw it to second so fast shortstop Rey Sanchez
couldn't get there in time. Jamey Carroll followed with a squeeze
bunt that put the Expos ahead, and Hernandez singled for a 2-0
lead. Fernando Tatis added an RBI double in the third.
New York ended its 13-inning scoreless streak in the fourth when
Jeromy Burnitz had an RBI double and Seo hit a bouncer that glanced
off first baseman Jeff Liefer's glove to second baseman Jose Vidro.
His throw to the plate beat Ty Wigginton, who knocked the ball out
of Barrett's glove. Liefer was charged with an error as the Mets
closed to 3-2.
Barrett homered in the sixth, and Carroll and pinch-hitter Ron
Calloway chased Seo with consecutive doubles. New York closed in
the seventh when Wigginton's two-out, bases-loaded smash bounced
off Liefer and past Vidro, who tried to barehand it, allowing two
runs to score.
"The guys are trying,'' Howe said. "They're just not
executing, for whatever reason.''
It was 82 degrees at gametime. The Mets clubhouse had a
sign that told players the field temperature on the artificial turf
was 105-plus with 50 percent humidity and encouraged them to drink
fluids. ... Sanchez left after 2½ innings because of a stomach
virus. He started feeling dizzy during batting practice and threw
up. ... Mets LF Tsuyohsi Shinjo made a leaping catch on Wilkerson's
drive at the top of the fence in the eighth. ... Former Yankee Ed
Figueroa threw out the ceremonial first pitch.