Braves are 0-3 for first time since 1988
ATLANTA (AP) -- The Atlanta Braves don't look anything like the
team that won 11 straight division titles.
Five-time Gold Glove winner Andruw Jones dropped a routine
flyball to lead to Montreal's first run and Brad Wilkerson hit a
two-run homer off Braves newcomer Russ Ortiz as the Expos won 4-0
Thursday night to send Atlanta to its worst start in 15 years.
"That's the best series I've seen this team play," said
manager Frank Robinson, who led Montreal to a 83-79 record last
year in his first season as manager of the Expos.
"We had good pitching and we caught the Braves at the right
time. We get three games and get out of town," he said shortly
before the Expos left for a weekend series in New York against the
The Braves are 0-3 for the first time since 1988 when they began
0-10. That was three years before they began their record run of
division titles. Atlanta, outscored 17-2 in the three-game sweep to
Montreal, was shut out for the second consecutive night and is
scoreless in 19 straight innings.
"We left our bats in spring training," said Jones, who hit
.385 during the spring, but is hitting only .167 so far. The Braves
hit .291 during the exhibition season, .228 now.
The Braves had not been blanked in two straight games since
Sept. 24-25, 1992 against San Francisco and San Diego, and had not
been swept since Aug. 10-12, 2001, by Arizona.
"We outhit them (9-6) but they're hitting home runs. That's the
difference," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "I'm not frustrated.
We'd like to win every night and we will."
Montreal starter Javier Vazquez (1-0) pitched 5 2-3 innings and
allowed seven hits, walked two and struck out five to help the
Expos get off to their best start since going 3-0 in 1997.
"I was just mixing up my pitches. I know them pretty good and
they know me very well," Vazquez said. "I just try to make good
pitches and make them swing the bat."
Vazquez escaped several jams with the Braves stranding nine
runners in the first six innings. Scott Stewart relieved Vazquez in
the sixth with two runners on and two outs and got pinch-hitter
Julio Franco on a comebacker.
T.J. Tucker and Joey Eischen finished the nine-hitter.
Ortiz (0-1), who came to the Braves in a December trade with San
Francisco for pitchers Damian Moss and Manuel Mateu, allowed an
unearned run in the opening inning when Jones casually attempted to
catch Jose Vidro's high fly ball to the warning track in center
field. The ball flicked off the web of his glove as Vidro raced to
"I just screwed up," Jones said. "I thought I was under it,
but it kept drifting and drifting toward the wall and I missed
Vladimir Guerrero, making his first start after serving a
two-game suspension for a spring training brawl, knocked in Vidro
with a groundout to third. Guerrero went 2-for-3 with an
Orlando Cabrera led off the second with a single and Wilkerson
followed with his first homer of the season, a drive over the right
field fence for a 3-0 lead.
Jeff Liefer added an RBI single in the fifth off Ortiz, who
allowed four runs -- three earned -- and five hits in six innings.
Vinny Castilla went 4-for-4 for the Braves, including two
Montreal's best start was 5-0 in 1972. ... The three wins
over the Braves matched the Expos total victories in Atlanta last
season (3-7). ... It's only the third time the Expos have swept a
three-game series against the Braves, beating them in Atlanta, July
8-10, 1988 and in Montreal, June 14-16, 1991. ... Atlanta C Javy
Lopez got his 1,000th career hit, a single to right field in the
second inning. ... A crowd of 19,505 was on hand. Only 19,116 came
out Wednesday night, the second lowest at Turner Field. The
smallest crowd was last September against Pittsburgh when 18,931
showed up. ... Vazquez, scheduled to be the Expos' opening day
pitcher, had his start pushed back because of a strained right
MON Wins 3-0
- Home Plate Umpire - Bruce Dreckman
- First Base Umpire - Brian Runge
- Second Base Umpire - Ed Montague
- Third Base Umpire - Brian Gorman