SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) -- The scorecard said Montreal was the
home team against the Chicago Cubs.
The cheers in the stands proved otherwise.
Moises Alou hit a tiebreaking two-run single in the seventh
inning, and the Cubs overcame a scary moment when Sammy Sosa was
hit in the helmet with a pitch in a 4-3 victory over the Expos on
Every Chicago run was cheered loudly by the crowd. There were
Sosa and Cub jerseys everywhere. And when Sosa was hit by Zach Day
in the fourth, a collective gasp was followed by a resounding boo
from the crowd of 15,632 at Hiram Bithorn Stadium.
"It doesn't really surprise me," Alou said. "A lot of people
from the Dominican Republic were telling me they were going to come
down to see this series."
The Cubs won their sixth in a row and remained in a tie with
Houston for the NL Central lead.
Alou, who is from the neighboring Dominican Republic, said the
team was distracted and nervous going into its first ever game in
San Juan, where the Expos play 22 "home" games this year.
Manager Dusty Baker, who played with the Santurce Crabbers of
the Puerto Rican Winter League in 1971, said he expected a warm
reception and a fun atmosphere at the game.
"This is Puerto Rico. You're going to have lots of music, lots
of noise, lots of excitement," Baker said.
"The stadium is a little different. It's nice, I feel like I
haven't been away that long," he said.
After Sosa was hit, the All-Star right fielder took a knee and
was immediately approached by Baker and the team's trainer. After a
few minutes, Sosa walked to first, and appeared to be fine. He
later scored on a sacrifice fly by Aramis Ramirez.
In April, Sosa was hit in the helmet by a pitch thrown by
Pittsburgh's Salomon Torres. That time, the ball's impact was so
severe it ripped a large hole in front of his left ear flap.
"This wasn't nearly as serious as the last one," manager Dusty
Baker said. "It's still kind of frightening. You have flashbacks
to what happened last time."
The Expos were playing the fourth of a six-game "homestand" in
Puerto Rico -- the team's third this season away from Montreal.
Montreal has lost three in a row and nine of 10 games and fallen
back in the race for the NL wild card.
"We've got a schedule to finish, and we've got to do it the
best we can," manager Frank Robinson said.
"I had good placement on my hits," Alou said.
Zambrano (12-6) allowed two runs and seven hits in seven
innings, and struck out five. Joe Borowski gave up a pinch-hit
homer to Jose Macias in the ninth before finishing for his 26th
save in 30 chances.
"The first two innings I was too excited. I had to calm down
and say to myself 'this is like any other game in the States,"
Baker said they were hoping to get seven innings out of their
"Big Z threw very well. He's pitched well for a long time
now," Baker added.
Chicago loaded the bases with one out in the sixth but only got
one run. Sosa, Alou and Ramirez hit consecutive singles and Randall
Simon followed with a single that scored Sosa and made it 2-1.
Wilkerson had another double in the sixth and scored on
Cabrera's sacrifice fly to tie it at 2-2.
The Cubs arrived in San Juan having swept their three-game
series against the Brewers in Milwaukee. ... San Juan's Hiram
Bithorn Stadium was named after a former Cubs pitcher (1942-1943
and 1946) who was the first Puerto Rican to play in the major
leagues. During Tuesday's pregame introductions, his No. 24 was put
on the right-field wall alongside the numbers of Hall of Famers
Roberto Clemente and Orlando Cepeda. ... Expos 1B Wil Cordero was
not with the club and won't be with the team Wednesday because of