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.

A rare bright spot for the Braves: Javy Lopez acknowledges fans after getting his 1,000th career hit.
A rare bright spot for the Braves: Javy Lopez acknowledges fans after getting his 1,000th career hit.

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

intentional walk.

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

infield hits.

Game notes

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