Final

Series: Game 1 of 3

Atlanta leads 1-0 (as of 9/15)

Game 1: Monday, September 15
Atlanta10Final
Montreal6
Game 2: Tuesday, September 16
Atlanta4Final
in 10
Montreal5
Game 3: Wednesday, September 17
Atlanta14Final
Montreal4

Braves 10

(94-57, 43-33 away)

Expos 6

(76-75, 51-28 home)

    7:05 PM ET, September 15, 2003

    Olympic Stadium, Montreal, Quebec 

    R H E
    ATL - -
    MON - -

    W: H. Ramirez (11-4)

    L: L. Hernandez (15-9)

    Atlanta 10, Montreal 6

    MONTREAL (AP) -- Javy Lopez and the Atlanta Braves want to put a strong finish on another great regular season.

    Lopez reached 100 RBI for the second time in his career as Atlanta reduced its magic number for clinching a record 12th straight division title to three with a 10-6 victory over the Montreal Expos on Monday night.

    "We're just concentrating on keeping on playing well because we haven't lately," said Lopez, who hit a two-run double in the seventh. "We just want to make sure that when we get to the playoffs we're playing hot baseball."

    Robert Fick hit his first homer in six weeks and Horacio Ramirez (11-4) won his third straight decision for Atlanta, which got its major league-leading 94th win and moved 10 games ahead of Florida in the NL East.

    Ramirez allowed seven hits and two runs in seven innings.

    "He was very good. He was on the attack," Braves manager Bobby Cox said.

    Fick hit a three-run homer off Livan Hernandez (15-9) in the second for his first home run since July 27, when he connected twice against the Expos in a 13-10 loss in Montreal.

    Hernandez allowed seven runs -- six earned -- and five hits in 3 1-3 innings. Despite the short outing, Hernandez raised his season total to 217 1-3 innings, one-third of an inning more than he needed to trigger a contract option that guarantees him a $6.5 million salary next season.

    "I'm not thinking about that," Hernandez said. "I know I needed to throw three innings, but I wasn't thinking about the contract. I wanted to make some outs, I wanted to win. I go on the mound and I try to do my job, and sometimes you try too hard. And I think I tried a little too hard today."

    Montreal's Brian Schneider hit a pinch-hit grand slam off Trey Hodges in the ninth to make it 10-6.

    With Montreal trailing 3-0, Vladimir Guerrero, who had his first career cycle Sunday, hit his 25th homer -- a solo shot -- in the second.

    Atlanta added a run on Andruw Jones' sacrifice fly in the third to take a 4-1 lead.

    The Braves added three more runs on a strange play in the fourth.

    Hernandez hit Fick with a pitch to begin the inning and Vinny Castilla singled. Ramirez bunted and Fick slid safely into third ahead of Hernandez's throw to load the bases.

    Rafael Furcal hit a soft liner which second baseman Jose Vidro dropped, but second-base umpire Joe Brinkman and plate umpire Derryl Cousins signaled an out. Vidro then threw home as all three runners advanced.

    Catcher Michael Barrett caught the ball as he stepped on the plate and ignored Fick, who scored Atlanta's fifth run unimpeded, as he threw to third baseman Todd Zeile, who stretched to catch the ball as Castilla slid into third.

    "I didn't hear anything, so I just threw the ball to home plate and another guy felt the same way because Michael thought that we got the double play at third base," Vidro said.

    Expos manager Frank Robinson came out to argue with Cousins as the three other umpires sorted out the play -- which was ruled an infield fly.

    "To me, it's not an infield fly," Robinson said. "Vidro went to his backhand trying to catch the ball. It wasn't a flyball, it was a semijammed line drive, or whatever it was. They said they called it. Well, if two of them said they called it, why didn't the other two call it?"

    When play resumed with Castilla on third, Ramirez on second and Atlanta up 5-1, Hernandez threw a wild pitch as Castilla scored the Braves' sixth run.

    Mark De Rosa hit an RBI single to make it 7-1 and chase Hernandez.

    The Expos scored their second run in the fifth on a close play at the plate. Pinch-hitter Edwards Guzman hit a leadoff single and, two outs later, tried to score on Brad Wilkerson's double.

    Lopez blocked the plate as he took the throw and kept Guzman from reaching the plate. But Lopez dropped the ball and Guzman stepped on the plate before Lopez could tag him.

    Game notes


    Lopez had 106 RBI in 1998. ... The teams combined to make five errors, including three by Montreal. ... A crowd of 9,696 increased the Expos' attendance to 998,270 through 79 home games, including 22 "home" dates in Puerto Rico. Montreal hasn't surpassed the 1 million mark since drawing 1,497,609 in 1997, when Pedro Martinez won the NL Cy Young Award in his last season in Montreal.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

    SPONSORED HEADLINES