MONTREAL (AP) -- Expos manager Frank Robinson wasn't cutting
rookie Henry Mateo any slack for a costly mistake.
Mateo, making his first start of the season in place of Gold
Glove shortstop Orlando Cabrera, made a three-base throwing error
in the ninth inning Friday night that sent the Atlanta Braves over Montreal 8-3.
"It's tough on him -- it's tough on us,'' Robinson said. "We're
not missing the tough plays. We're not making the routine plays and
that costs us ballgames.''
The Braves, who lost starter Greg Maddux early when he
aggravated a calf injury, scored five times in the ninth.
Atlanta increased its NL East lead over second-place Montreal to
Maddux left the game after five innings when he aggravated a strained left calf while running the bases.
"I feel a lot better now than I did after the fifth or sixth
inning,'' Maddux said. "I'm hoping what happened was that I just
popped the scar tissue. I'm pretty optimistic and I'm feeling a lot
better right now.''
The loss quieted a festive crowd of 14,256 at Olympic Stadium as
Cliff Floyd made his first appearance in an Expos uniform since
Floyd, acquired from Florida on Thursday, was given a prolonged
standing ovation before grounding out in his first at-bat leading off the second. Batting cleanup, he went 0-for-4.
"I was a little anxious tonight in my return,'' Floyd said. "I mean, the fans were unbelievable. A standing 'O' for two minutes -- that's something special.''
"It was a tough loss for us but we have to just figure out a way to come back and not hang our heads and not get ourselves down,'' he said. "We know we've got a good club here.''
Vinny Castilla doubled to start the ninth off T.J. Tucker (4-1).
Braves pitcher Jason Marquis pinch-ran, and scored the go-ahead run
when Mateo bobbled pinch-hitter Wes Helms' grounder and then threw
it past first baseman Andres Galarraga.
"It was a routine groundball,'' Mateo said. "An error is an error. I rushed a little bit. I held the ball too long and when I threw, I made a bad throw.''
Mateo played in place of Cabrera, who was a late scratch due to
a sore left ankle. Rafael Furcal added a two-run triple, Julio
Franco hit an RBI single and Chipper Jones had a sacrifice fly.
Mike Remlinger (7-0) pitched the eighth for the win.
Expos starter Tomo Ohka, who scattered seven hits and allowed one run in seven innings.
Vladimir Guerrero hit his third homer in two days, connecting in
the Expos fourth. His 22nd home run of the season was a 431-foot
shot over the left-field stands.
Maddux stole second base after he walked with two out in the
fifth. He scored the tying run on Furcal's RBI double past third
baseman Fernando Tatis' diving attempt.
The four-time Cy Young winner pitched a perfect bottom half before leaving, having allowed just two hits.
"It didn't hurt him at all when he stole,'' Braves manager
Bobby Cox said. "He's a competitor. He's going to do stuff like
that. He's the one who got it going. If he doesn't go, we probably
don't score a run tonight. it takes something like that to get the team rolling.''
Left-hander Chris Hammond relieved and pitched a perfect sixth
but the Expos took the lead against reliever Kevin Gryboski in the
seventh on Galarraga's RBI double.
Galarraga, who advanced to third on the throw to the plate,
scored on a wild pitch to put Montreal up 3-1.
It was Maddux's fifth career stolen base, and first since
1997. ... Hammond had allowed just three earned runs in his last 29
appearances, holding opponents scoreless in 26 of those outings.
... Sheffield has reached safely in 38 straight games, one game
short of Jones' team record set in 1999.